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Ray Russell Press Image




Experimental Jazz/Rock Guitarist, Composer and Educator

Ray Russell made his professional debut as Vic Flick's replacement as lead guitarist in the John Barry Seven. With Barry, he played on the soundtracks for James Bond films - Moonraker, You Only Live Twice, Octopussy, Thunderball, Live and Let Die, The Man With The Golden Gun, and The Spy Who Loved Me. Ray went on to play a stew of jazz, R&B, and other styles with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, the Graham Bond Organisation, and the Mike Gibbs Band, where he worked alongside Chris Spedding and Jack Bruce. 

As an indefatigable session musician, he has collaborated with George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Freddie Mercury, Jeff Beck, David Bowie, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, Bryan Ferry, Phil Collins, Scott Walker, Art Garfunkel, Marvin Gaye, Heaven 17, Lulu and Tina Turner (check out “Let's Stay Together" on Private Dancer) to name only a few. 

His 1968 solo debut - Turn Circle, was the first of a series of increasingly free-wheeling albums bursting at the seams with compositional invention, soundscaping expertise which is recognisable in his latest album - Fluid Architecture. Ray is reputedly the first English guitarist with a pedal-board setup. During the years he played with prog-rockers and/or fusioneers Mouse, Nucleus, Rock Workshop, Chopyn, Rock Follies, Gil Evans Orchestra, RMS (Ray Russell, Mo Foster and Simon Philips) and more recently Mo Foster and Friends. 

Many would be familiar with his work in television and film, from his early work on the James Bond films, Ray went on to work with George Harrison on his HandMade film projects Life of Brian, Water and Time Bandits. Through the 60s & 70s Ray made TV appearances on Top Of The Pops, Old Grey Whistle Test, and was a member of the TV group the Rock Follies for which they received two gold discs. Ray continued in TV and Film as a decorated composer and music producer for UK and US audiences. One of his most notable achievements in television was receiving a Royal Television Society Award for 

Best Music and Use of Music in a TV series for his work on A Touch of Frost

In recent years Ray created a storm on the BBC Antiques Roadshow with a rare guitar given to him by George Harrison and filmed in California for the prestigious National Association of Music Merchants, as part of their renown NAMM Oral History programme. 

The information pact provides a brief insight into rays portfolio and includes information on the members of the Ray Russell Band 

For more Information on Ray including  discography and collaborations follow the links below

Vortex (review) - 

Ray Russell also profited greatly from the attentions of a supremely responsive drummer, Gary Husband. Fusion guitarist goes some way towards categorising Russell, but his solos are packed with much more than the tricksiness and bombast frequently associated with the genre. Blistering single-note runs, sudden variations of texture and an adventurous approach to harmony are all Russell hallmarks, and everything from blues to funk to jazz and even psychedelia is grist to his mill. A packed Friday-night house was given what amounted to a master class in electric-guitar playing by one of the most respected practitioners on the instrument.

John Fordham, The Guardian - 

Russell the composer is so eager that some pieces restlessly bubble with sub-themes that could have been tracks on their own. But the leader's own playing is strong as ever – eloquently nuanced in vocalised long tones, nailed to the beat on swerving fast runs. The Island mixes a wide-horizon melody and a fast funky one, Shards of Providence has a good raunchy hook, Slow Day is a slow bluesy thump with Watson's Hammond whirring beneath, and Suddenly They Are Gone and Cab in the Rain are graceful rock ballads for Russell in Roy Buchanan mode... but jazz-rock devotees will certainly want to hear Ray Russell out in the open more often.

David Forman , Verdict Jazz (review) - 

No two gigs could be as different as Friday's and Saturday's were at The verdict Jazz this last week end. The gentility of music describing walking on the downs was at stark variance to the wild mastery of guitarist Ray Russell and his progressive rock the following evening. Ray's life has been simply remarkable and he has embraced different careers, one as a very highly-rated session player and award-winning T.V. and Film composer and another as a brilliant  guitar experimentalist....The rest of the band consisted of the simply amazing Jim Watson on organ, Ray's brilliant son George Bald win on bass and chapman stick and drummer Ian Palmer (son of Carl of ELP!)

Peter Thelen, Fluid Architecture (review) - 

On the nine instrumental tracks herein, Russell teams up with a number of superb session players including keyboardist Jim Watson, woodwind player Chris Biscoe, bassist George Baldwin, and drummer Simon Phillips, among many others, although each piece seems to feature different players, and some — like the beautiful acoustic number “One for Geoff” — are purely solo endeavors....All taken, Fluid Architecture is a great set that should engage adventurous listeners everywhere.

Bill Tilland -

A review of Goodbye Svengali:On the strength of this CD, it’s a mystery why Ray Russell has been so severely under-recorded throughout his career. As part of an exploratory group of British musicians in the late 1960’s, Russell released several acclaimed experimental jazz fusion albums, but he has made only a handful of recordings under his name since 1973, although he has always been in huge demand (for obvious reasons) as a session player...

Peter Marsh, BBC Jazz - 

Russell is a fearsomely gifted player who relies on taste rather than speed, even when teamed up with the likes of fusion legends Anthony Jackson and Simon Phillips. Highlights include the slow burn of the opening “Everywhere”, plus a quietly gutsy rendering of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” from Russell in duet with Evans. That this was Gil’s last recorded appearance gives the piece a particular emotional kick. Recommended.

Mark Sullivan, All about Jazz, (Album Review) -

All of these tunes show off Russell's virtuosity; he is a bonafide British guitar hero. Fluid Architecture is Russell's description of the process of musical performance: "The musicians that helped interpret the many 'moments' and helped the music 'become' are as important as the composition ... for what they play is fluid architecture." A lovely description of the creation of a remarkable album.

Barry Cleveland - Guitar Player

Russell’s playing is beautifully nuanced throughout, ranging from delicate jazz voicings to echo-y Ebow textures to full-on fusion shred, and his compositions embody a harmonic sophistication that attest to a lifetime spent in service to his muse. (Cuneiform).

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