Charles Ellsworth Russell, 27 March 1906, Maple Wood, Missouri, USA, d. 15 February 1969, Alexandria. Russell began playing clarinet in the early 20s and by 1927, the year he came to New York, had already worked with luminaries such as Jack Teagarden, Frank Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke. In the late 20s and throughout the 30s and 40s, Russell played with numerous jazzmen working in the traditional sphere, among them Bobby Hackett, Wild Bill Davison, Louis Prima, Billy Butterfield, Muggsy Spanier, George Wettling and Art Hodes. He also enjoyed a long association with Eddie Condon, although enjoyed is perhaps an inappropriate term for what Russell later described as a time of sadness - thanks to his hangdog expression and idiosyncratic style of playing, he was often treated as a clown. In the 50s Russells health was suspect - he suffered from alcoholism - but by the 60s he was back playing at clubs, concerts and festivals around the world.
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