Russ Phillips’ life as a jazz musician started as a toddler in late 1951 when his father, Russ, Sr., joined Louis Armstrong’s All Stars to replace Jack Teagarden. After this engagement, his family settled in the Chicago area.
Russ’ education on the trombone started with his father, but continued through grammar school, high school and on to college. He studied with teachers Bob Lambert and Frank Crisafulli from the Chicago Symphony and briefly William Bell and Louis Haney from Indiana University. Russ counts among his trombone heroes: His father Russ Phillips, Sr., Jack Teagarden, Abe Lincoln, Cutty Cutshall, J.C. Higgenbotham, J.J. Johnson, Slide Hampton, Carl Fontana and other great players.
Russ has performed in many different musical settings, from classical ensembles and pit orchestras to big bands, small swing and dixieland units, to rock ‘n roll horn sections. He has performed with the Four Freshmen, Lionel Hampton, Doc Cheatham, Doc Severinsen, Bob Haggart, Don Goldie, Buddy DeFranco, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Kenny Davern, Tom Saunders, The Chicago Cub Quintet including Kim Cusack and Mike Walbridge, The Temptations and many others.
Russ Phillips says, “One of my biggest joys and challenges is performing in new situations with new musicians. That’s what playing jazz and being a professional is about and what keeps it fresh and exciting. I hope to be able to continue expanding those musical horizons by performing with other great musicians in clubs, concerts, jazz festivals, baseball games or picnics…whatever the occasion.”