CARRY IT UP
Critically acclaimed, award winning vocalist, guitarist and composer, Woody Russell has released a body of recorded work that spans from the folk-rock infused songwriter fare of his first album, …As Simple As That (1996) to the more recent and highly praised blues/soul release of Up Against It (2010) and the pop-jazz shades of Delicious Days (2013). A year in the... more
CARRY IT UP
Critically acclaimed, award winning vocalist, guitarist and composer, Woody Russell has released a body of recorded work that spans from the folk-rock infused songwriter fare of his first album, …As Simple As That (1996) to the more recent and highly praised blues/soul release of Up Against It (2010) and the pop-jazz shades of Delicious Days (2013). A year in the making, his newest full length album, Carry It Up, set for release this spring, is Russell’s most ambitious recording effort to date. Again, his sophisticated jazz-adjacent songwriting is present throughout and the band turns in another exceptional performance. Mainstays from previous WR bands include bassist extraordinaire, Brady Muckelroy and harmonica ace, Jose Ruiz. New additions, Lloyd Wright (piano, keys), Derrick Hicks (piano), Tony Miller (drums) and special guest vocalist, Jacqui Walker, shine through with inspired performances. The recording is brimming with excellent solos and ensemble interplay. But, what elevates the game this time around is Russell’s very fine delivery as a vocalist regarding both the arrangements and performances. There is no mistake that he possesses a voice which finds him a frontrunner on the jazzier side of the current Adult Contemporary scene. And, not unlike a primary influence, Van Morrison, he navigates the sound of his words with a rhythmic precision and melodic expression akin to a jazz improviser.
The Austin, Texas based Russell has always been a genre-blurring artist and Carry It Up is no exception. As a lyricist, Woody digs deep in to intimate narratives and is equally comfortable addressing a broader social consciousness. The album focuses on themes of love, compassion, tolerance, respect and the quest for all of the aforementioned. An acoustic cover – Russell’s first - of Marvin Gaye’s chestnut, “What’s Going On” features the tenor sax of Chi-town transplant, Dez Desormeaux, and is right at home amid the rest of this original work. The end result with Carry It Up is a lush, complex recording with a soul-jazz heart, created by a master craftsman and his superb band.
The Woody Russell Trio features two musicians from the album’s sessions: Lloyd Wright on piano and “all things keys”, plus jazz/blues harmonica from Jose Ruiz. The Trio format has been developing over the course of a couple of tours. It also continues to grow technically, employing the use of electronics and percussion in an aim to further the possibilities within the context of a small group.
Woody takes to the road throughout Texas frequently, as well as tours in the U.S. and Canada. His live performances, whether solo, trio or with his full band, have been described as "transcendent" by KDRP radio personality, David Arnsberger; engaging audiences with a sincere and "in the moment" connection to his music. He's shared billing with artists ranging from Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, Steve Earle and Paul Thorn to Jimmy Vaughan and Tommy Castro at theaters, nightclubs and major festivals, including the prestigious Newport Folk Festival. Critically praised as an "exemplary" guitarist, an “exceptional singer” and songwriter of the highest caliber - a "total artist package", Woody Russell delivers seasoned performances with over twenty-five years as a professional musician to his credit. Respected music industry veteran and President of BE Music and Entertainment, Michael Blanton, calls him "one of the best kept secrets in the world of live performance today." Blues Revue offers that, as a guitarist, Russell possesses the “fearlessness of Jeff Beck”.
Woody is also a founding member of BluzSkool, along with bandmate, Jose Ruiz. Bluzskool is a performance program which brings a fun, dynamic and interactive musical "clinic" to elementary and middle school aged children in often under-served communities. The program includes on-stage participation; singing, dancing, playing the harmonica and percussion in a highly charged improvisational performance atmosphere that helps nurture self-confidence, as well as, the courage to be creative and to "think outside the box".
Woody Russell was a prominently featured artist on Season One of the CW Network's, "Troubadour, TX"; airing weekly in over 20 million households nationwide from Sept. 2011 through Sept. 2012. He also toured as one of four artists chosen to represent the program.
The show has since shifted focus to the Texas country music scene exclusively. It has also been reformatted to a half-hour program.