“Find the pocket, play the groove, and you get the calls.”
Russell Jackson has more than five decades under his belt as a master of both acoustic and electric bass. He’s fluent in many styles and was the first to employ the slap bass in a blues context, over time earning the moniker, “the Groove Guru”. A disciple of the legendary Willie Dixon, Russell continues to champion the tradition of the stand-up bass.
Memphis born, as a young man Russell Jackson moved to Chicago to hone his craft. He was soon hired by one of the blues city’s greats, vocalist Otis Clay. During this time, he was spotted by none other than Mr. B.B. King, who invited him to join the B.B. King Orchestra. He spent the next seven years travelling the world with the legendary ‘Ambassador of the Blues’. Memorable moment include performing with the B.B. King Band for a New Year's Eve (2016) television production of Austin City Limits, and the induction of B.B. into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame.
With dual citizenship, Russell works regularly on both sides of the border. His Austin roots go back to the 80’s, when he established himself as an in-demand session player and busy band member for Katie Webster, Lucky Peterson, Kenny Neal, Matt Guitar Murphy and Luther Tucker. It was then the original Silent Partners were formed, with Russell on bass, guitarist Mel Brown (Bobby Blue Bland Band), and drummer Tony Coleman (B.B. King Band). The trio recorded an album If It’s All Night, It’s All Right (1989), on the famed Antone’s record label. Silent Partners also toured with Charlie Musselwhite for six months in (1987). From 1989-90, Russell toured with Youngbloods Of the Blues, (Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, Tony Coleman and Boney Fields), opening for Buddy Guy. In Canada, Russell has been a fixture on the scene since the early 90’s, spending 1993-94 with the Powder Blues Band. He tours Canada regularly with his Russell Jackson Band, and can also be found touring globally with Canadian based blues & boogie giant, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne.
Russell’s solo releases feature all originals, including The Alley Man (1994), Becoming Blue (1999) and Have Mercy (2007). He’s also heard on numerous notable artist’s albums, including Otis Clay, B.B. King, Albert Collins, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Kenny Neal, Luther Tucker, Long John Baldry, Frankie Lee, and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, among them.
In 2021, Russell Jackson and Tony Coleman, two founding members of Silent Partners, reunited to create a sound that that has become a foundation for many artists’ recordings and tours. The reinvigorated Silent Partners hit the studio to create Changing Times (2022). The album hit the top of the charts and was nominated for Blues Blast’s Contemporary Blues Album of the Year and the Sean Costello Rising Star Award, while Russell was nominated Bass Player of the Year and Tony Coleman for Drummer of the Year.
An in demand session player, Russell is equally at home in the studio or providing bass tracks remotely. His long and lengthy discography is a testimony to the the huge library of music (and still growing) featuring Russell on bass.
Russell is a highly sought after educator who teaches in workshop settings and privately. His master classes are available locally or online. Teaching credits include the Hornby Island Blues Camp (2012, 2013, 2024), the Tom Lee School of Music (1997-99), Master Classes for the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge (2017-20), among the many.
Russell’s been sought out to be a Music Director in a number of settings, including his work with Touring Chicago Bluesfest from 2005-10 that featured Willie Hayes, Shakura S’Aida, Tasha Taylor, Wayne Baker Brooks, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, Eddie Taylor Jr. Wilbert Crosby, James Armstrong, Sandra Hall, D.C. Bellamey and more.
Russell has endorsed GHS Bass Strings since 1979, and endorses Singleton Guitars.
“Russell Jackson is a dynamic, creative and most talented bass player, musician I have had the pleasure to work with in all of my musical endeavors. He is not only an instrumentalist but also a composer, songwriter,bandleader, vocalist, organizer and tour manager. I’m very happy to call him my friend. Our time together in the B B King Orchestra has been some of our best creative and formative years of our young careers. B. B. King leaned on Russell’s rock solid foundation and created a new direction for the Blues.”
- James "Boogaloo" Bolden, B.B. King's bandleader for 35 years
"Russell Jackson has been a regular on the Western Canadian blues scene since moving to Vancouver back in 1990 after a long stint with the BB King Orchestra.
We've had the pleasure of seeing him perform with his own band and backing dozens of established blues artists at clubs, concerts and festivals over the years. Whether it's on electric, or upright bass Russell always offers a master class as a musician and songwriter. I've known him for over 30 years and we've worked on diverse albums with Long John Baldry to Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne. Russell is an absolute pleasure to have on sessions or at live gigs. A total professional with a welcoming smile and a love of collaboration. "
-Holger Petersen, Broadcaster (CBC Radio and CKUA), co-founder Stony Plain Records, author.
“Russell Jackson’s long career of playing with the best in the business, including many years with B.B. King, gives him a pedigree as one of the top Blues bass players out there. I have been fortunate to have seen him perform live numerous times and to have produced multiple blues events in which he participated, and can say unequivocally that he is a joy to hear and to work with!”
-Barbara Ballin Newman, Former President and CEO of The Blues Foundation, Memphis, TN
“Not only is Russell Jackson a good longtime friend, he is an excellent bassist whom has mastered all genres of music" … “Russell and I both lived in Vancouver when he started playing more acoustic bass. I would hire him when I was playing piano lounges and stuff like that. Russell has a real good ear, great chops, and is not afraid to expand the music. We have been able to compliment each other without actually practicing. He loves that Willie Dixon slapping bass style, and that’s kind of the bass I like to hear on that type of stuff, especially the boogie stuff.”
-Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne
"Russell Jackson & I have been playing together since 1974 when we were in the US Army together." "...he is simply very dedicated and committed to playing the best as possible for whatever the situation calls for. And with energy and exuberance.”
- Tony "TC" Coleman, drummer
“My tone has been my bread and butter. When I got the gig with B.B. King in 1979, he told me to leave all of the effects at home. He said “Just bring me ten fingers and your heart.” I haven’t used any effects since then."
“Russell Jackson is equally facile with both acoustic and electric bass, laying down the groove in his funky, inimitable style. No matter how many miles he's travelled or what the day has held, Russell is always eager to hit the stage. He's also a fine singer . Young musicians are drawn to him as he's generous in sharing his knowledge, ensuring the future looks bright for the blues. He's a true inspiration.”