George Russell Jr.

Professor

"I make a point of developing a relationship with each and every student in my classes. I learn everybody's names the first day. After that, there's not a class that goes by where I am not talking to every student, whether it's 'Hello, how are you?' or talking about class material."

"I mix in a little humor, I share a bit about myself and what I'm going through. I try to make it very personal. Then students can open up to receive the harmony package I'm trying to sell them. It's not the easiest subject to buy. It's all analysis. I try to teach it in a way that is compelling, so that students understand the application of it in their own performance."

"Music is harmony and melody. It's like a vocabulary. Without a vocabulary, it's difficult to speak. You can do it, but it sounds like you don't know what you're saying. As a player myself, knowing harmonic theory gives me a lot of security. I know two plus two equals four. I don't have to guess."

"In addition to harmony classes, I teach a gospel/jazz instrumental ensemble, in which we play a lot of my original music. I also teach an instrumental ensemble in mixed styles, where we deal mainly with improvising on the harmonic changes."

"I love sharing the information that I have with others. It is really inspiring to just be around the students, faculty, and staff, and to be a part of their development as musicians."

Career Highlights

 

  • B.S., Duquesne University
  • M.M., New England Conservatory of Music
  • Leader, George W. Russell, Jr., Trio
  • Performances with Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Ernie Isley, Cecil McBee, Semenya McCord, Bob Moses, Tiger Okoshi, Billy Pierce, Richard Smallwood, Stan Strickland, and Lenny White
  • Recordings include SchlicknessWorship in the Style of GCommunion Volume ICommunion Volume IISandra Dowe and the George W. Russell Jr. TrioThe Pianist and the Poet, and George W. Russell Jr.
  • Finalist, Martial Solar International Jazz Piano Competition
  • Recipient, 2001 New England Conservatory of Music Gospel Music Award
  • Served as minister of music/chief musician for Jubilee (formerly New Covenant) Christian Church in Boston for 15 years
  • Performs his original program Clap Your Hands, a narrative concert about gospel music in America, in several school systems in Massachusetts under the auspices of Young Audiences of Massachusetts
  • Former chairman of the Jazz Department at the Pennsylvania Govenor's School for the Arts, 1986-2008
  • Founder of Christian Musicians Fellowship of Boston
  • Awards include Berklee College of Music Distinguished Faculty Award, Curriculum Development Award, and Ted Pease Excellence in Teaching Award