Jazz Singer, Writer & Educator
Harlem-born and classically trained, Sandi Russell is now living in Britain, where she has established herself as one of the most brilliant and versatile jazz singers of her generation. Often compared with the great divas – Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan – Sandi has her own unique vocal style, distinguished by dramatic range and resonance.
Whether interpreting Ellington, Monk or Porter, whether scatting or recreating ballads and blues, Sandi Russell is an exciting performer of exceptional musicality. ‘If you thought Billie Holiday took phrasing to its hair-raising limits’, said Humphrey Lyttleton recently of Sandi Russell, ‘think again!’. Sandi’s last sizzling album can be sampled on her website and she is about to release a new CD combining original material with movingly inventive interpretation and improvisation.
As a native New Yorker, Sandi Russell has sung in many of Manhattan’s most prestigious clubs: Greene Street, Grand Finale, Reno Sweeney, The Ballroom, Sweet Rhythm and Mikell's. She has worked with jazz luminaries such as Lionel Hampton, Roy Eldridge, Ellis Larkins, Beaver Harris, Earl May, Don Pullen and Jean Toussaint.
In London, Sandi Russell has regularly performed with the Kate Williams Trio (Oli Hayhurst, Tristan Mailliot), Dave Newton Trio (Andy Cleyndert, Steve Brown), John Horler Trio (Alec Dankworth, Steve Brown) and Jon Pearce Trio, at Pizza Express, Pizza on the Park, the Pheasantry and many other venues, including Ronnie Scott's, the Riverside Studios, the Purcell Room and the Voice Box on the South Bank. Other venues include The Sage, Gateshead, where she opened the 2007 International Jazz Festival, Durham’s Gala Theatre, Sheffield’s Lyceum and London’s Victoria Palace, as well as many arts centres and universities throughout the U.K.
Extensively interviewed for Voice of America, the BBC’s Look North and Women’s Hour, Sandi Russell has had her own television special for Public Broadcasting in the USA and regularly appears on talk shows, jazz stations and local radio and TV in the UK. In Britain, France and Italy, she has presented her one-woman show Render Me My Song
to great acclaim.
Sandi Russell has made three previous CDs: Live at Pizza on the Park
with the Jon Pearce Trio (1998) and
with the Dave Newton Trio (2003), and her most recent album entitled
with the Dave Newton Trio, featuring Georgie Fame, David Murray, Guy Barker, Jim Mullen and Alan Skidmore (Evening Standard - 4 stars).
As well as performing, Sandi Russell, along with the University of Durham (Musicon) and hosted by St. Chad's College, has organised the first two jazz festivals of Durham City, UK. The participants thus far: Sandi Russell/Alan Barnes with the John Horler Trio, John Etheridge, John Taylor, Louise Gibbs and Five Pieces of Silver, the Omar Puente Quintet and the Paul Edis Trio with Vasilis Xenopoulos.
Ms. Russell is listed in
Who's Who Among African Americans
published by Thomson Gale; Honorary Fellow, St. Chad's College, Durham University.