Born 1954, London; guitar.
John Russell got hold of his first guitar in 1965 and began playing in and around London from 1971. His involvement
with the Free Music scene came early, from 1972 onwards, and in such places as The Little Theatre Club,
Ronnie Scott's, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Musicians' Co-Op and the London Musicians' Collective. From
1974 his work extended into teaching, broadcasts (radio and television) and touring (continuing) in the United
Kingdom and abroad, including Austria, Belgium, Canada; Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Holland, Italy,
Luxembourg, Sweden and Switzerland.
In 1981, he founded Quaqua, a large bank of improvisers put together in different combinations for
specific projects and in 1987 helped to set-up Acta Records with
John Butcher and Phil Durrant. In 1988 he was the co-founder of MOPOMOSO, London's longest
running concert series featuring mainly improvised music.
He has said that, 'Since my early involvement with free improvisation as a way of making music, I have
moved closer to the realisation that this is the best way for me to work as a musician,
bringing together the intellectual and the intuitive with the practical in the creation of
a music that is unique to a specific time and place. I also believe that playing solo, in
long term and less permanent groups, all have particular things to offer the improviser
and I have tried to exploit all three areas whilst developing existing traditions and
juxtaposing previously unrelated areas in an attempt to provide a fertile ground for
As opportunities permit, he has extended this approach to collaborate with creative practitioners
from other disciplines, i.e. poetry, composition, theatre and performance art.
Apart from solo playing, current work includes Butcher/Durrant/Russell trio, the
Chris Burn Ensemble, duos with Stefan Keune,
Roger Turner, Phil Minton, Gina Southgate,
Evan Parker, Hugh Davies and Luc Houtkamp and
London Air Lift with Evan Parker,
John Edwards and Mark Sanders, as well as numerous ad hoc meetings.
Johnson, Alan (1997), John Russell: acoustic guitarist. Avant, no. 3, (Autumn), p. 25.
- 1973, Life amid the artefacts, Emanem 5014. Otherways & Free Space.
- 1974/5, Teatime, Incus 15.
- 1974/1975, Teatime, Emanem 5009. Re-issue of Incus 15 with additional JR duo track with Dave Solomon.
- 1978, Home cooking, Incus 31.
- 1979, Artless sky, CAW 001. With Roger Turner and Toshinori Kondo.
- 1980, Forward of short leg, Dossier ST 7529. With various Jon Rose groups.
- ?, Requiem, Impetus IMP LP 18405. Quiet violence.
- 1980, Vario II, Moers Music 01084.
- 1981, The fairly young bean, Emanem 4036. With Maarten Altena/Terry Day.
- 1983/1985, Vario, Moers Music 02048.
- 1987, Conceits, Acta 1.
- 1987/1992, Conceits, Emanem 5036. Re-issue of Acta 1 with additional material.
- 1988, Wild Pathway Favourites, Ladder rung002.
- 1989, News from the shed, Acta 4.
- 1989, News from the shed, Emanem 4121. Re-issue of Acta 4 with additional material.
- 1990, Cultural baggage, Acta 5.
- 1991, The Place 1991, Emanem 4056. Chris Burn Ensemble.
- 1991/1992, Concert moves, Random Acoustics RA 011. Butcher/Durrant/Russell.
- 1992, Ohrkiste, ITM Classics 950013. Radu Malfatti.
- 1994, Strakt, Discus 5CD. Brief track on Network CD.
- 1996, Birthdays, Emanem 4010. Duo with Roger Turner.
- 1996, London air lift FMP CD89. Quartet with Evan Parker, John Edwards, Mark Sanders.
- 1997, Navigations, Acta 12. Chris Burn's Ensemble.
- 1997, Interplay, FMR CD39 V0697. Hugh Davies, in trio with Russell/Turner.
- 1997, Improvisation: exhibit 'A', Avant BGS sampler. Solo track on cover CD of Avant, no. 3.
- 1997/8, Strings with Evan Parker, Emanem 4302.
- 1998, The scenic route, Emanem 4029. Butcher/Durrant/Russell.
- 1998, Refrain, MS 41. Schiano/Russell/Hallett/Turner/Penazzi.
- 1998, The duo recordings, The Field Recordings 7, FR7. Duo with Luc Houtkamp.
- 2000, Excerpts & offerings, Acta 14. Stefan Keune/John Russell duo.
- 2000, The All Angels concerts, Emanem 4209. Solo on compilation 2-CD.
- 2001, The second sky, Emanem 4058. Russell/Turner.
- 2001, Deluxe improvisation series vol. 2, ASE_03/Deluxe improvisation series vol. 2. Quartet track with Stefan Keune on compilation CD.
- 2001, Freedom of the city 2001: large groups, Emanem 4206. Strings with/without Evan Parker.
- 2001, Freedom of the city 2001: small groups, Emanem 4205.
- 2001, Horizontals white, Emanem 4080. Chris Burn Ensemble.
- 2001, Grain, DotDotDot Music 003. Short track on compilation CD.
- 2001/02, From next to last, Emanem 4071. Solo.
- 2002, Freedom of the city 2002: small groups, Emanem 4210. Duo with Evan Parker on compilation CD.
- 2002, Frequency of use, NURNICHTNUR BERSLTON 102 12 31. Stefan Keune/John Russell duo.
- 2002, Mopomoso solos 2002, Emanem 4100. Chris Burn/Lol Coxhill/John Edwards/Phil Minton/John Russell.
- 2003, Freedom of the city 2003: small groups, Emanem 4212.
- 2003, Three planets, Emanem 4106. Russell/Völker/Werchowski.
- 2004, Freedom of the city 2004: small groups, Emanem 4214.
- 2004 & 2006, Analekta, Emanem 413.
- 2005, Crossing the river, psi 06.02. Evan Parker Octet.
- 2005, More together than alone, Emanem 4136. Lol Coxhill.
- 2005/6, The Mercelis concert, Inaudible CD 006. John Russell/Jean Demey/Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg.
- 2006, 2006 Duos, Emanem 4137. Terry Day.
- 2006, Vario-44, Edition Explico 15. John Butcher/Roger Turner/John Russell/Thomas Lehn/Dorothea Schürch/Günter Christmann.
- 2007-2010, Translations, Emanem 5019. Pascal Marzan/John Russell.
- 2008, No room for doubt, Amirani AMRN020. Five rooms.
- 2008, Duet, Another timbre at27. Duo with Martine Altenburger.
- 2009, The cigar that talks, Collection PiedNu PN0110. Doneda/Russell/Turner.
- 2009, House full of floors, Tzadik TZ7632. Evan Parker/John Edwards/John Russell/Aleks Kolkowski.
- 2009, Hyste, psi 10.06. Solo.
- 2011, Kosai Yujyo, INaudible CD 008/improvising beings ib14. Sabu Toyozumi (JR on one track).
- 2011, Birds, dEN Records dEN 008. Mats Gustafsson/John Russell/Raymond Strid.
- 2014, With..., Emanem 5037. John Russell's 60th birthday gig.
- 2016, Walthamstow moon, Byrd Out BYR002. Evan Parker/John Edwards/John Russell.