Curley Russell

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Curley Russell
Background information
Birth nameDillon Russell
Born(1917-03-19)March 19, 1917
New York City, United States
DiedJuly 3, 1986(1986-07-03) (aged 69)
Jamaica, Queens County, New York, United States
Instrument(s)Double bass
Years active1940s–1950s

Dillon "Curley" Russell[1] (March 19, 1917 – July 3, 1986)[2] was an American jazz musician, who played bass on many bebop recordings.

He was born in New York City, United States.[3] He was nicknamed "Curley" for his curly hair.

A member of the Tadd Dameron Sextet, he was in demand for his ability to play at the rapid tempos typical of bebop, and appears on several key recordings of the period. He left the music business in the late 1950s.[3]

On May 1, 1951, Russell played in the recording session for "Un Poco Loco", composed by American jazz pianist Bud Powell, with Max Roach on drums. Literary critic Harold Bloom included this performance on his short list of the greatest works of twentieth-century American art.

According to jazz historian Phil Schaap, the classic bebop tune "Donna Lee", a contrafact on "Back Home Again in Indiana", was named after Curley's daughter.[4][5] In 2002, she donated her father's bass to the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.[6]

Russell died of emphysema at Queens General Hospital at the age of 69 in 1986.[7]


As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ Woideck, Carl Charlie Parker: his music and life University of Michigan Press, 1998; ISBN 0-472-08555-7, ISBN 978-0-472-08555-2 at Google Books
  2. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 2167. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  3. ^ a b "Curly Russell Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-10-09.
  4. ^ Schaap learned this from saxophonist and music historian Allen Lowe, who was a friend of Russell.
  5. ^ "Donna Lee", Accessed 2009-07-26.
  6. ^ The Curly Russell Bass: Restoration of a Musical Instrument, Accessed 2014-12-24.
  7. ^ "Dillon (Curly) Russell, A Be-Bop Bass Player". The New York Times. July 9, 1986.