Russell Gunn was nine when his family moved from Chicago to East St. Louis, Illinois. A year later he picked up the trumpet and began a nearly decade-long membership in the school band. It was his high school band director who forced him to take his craft more seriously, leading to a full scholarship at Jackson State University.
Eventually Gunn made his way to New York City at the invitation of saxophonist Oliver Lake, an active player on the New York City ôloft jazzö scene. After hearing Gunn perform at a club in St. Louis, Lake invited him to join him for a gig at the Brooklyn Museum. One night, shortly after performing with Lake, Gunn was on stage during a jam session at the Blue Note in Manhattan. It was 4 a.m. and most of the musicians and audience had left, but Gunn was playing with great energy and little regard for the time. In the house was an assistant to Wynton Marsalis who was so impressed by what he heard, he recommended that Marsalis hire Gunn for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. When Marsalis needed the third trumpet player for Blood on the Fields, he hired Gunn.
One night during a Lincoln Center performance, GunnÆs playing similarly caught the attention of Branford Marsalis, who was on hand to hear his brotherÆs work. Before long, Branford recruited Gunn to join his Buckshot LeFonque ensemble. In addition to hitting almost every corner of the U.S. and Europe during the groupÆs 1995-96 tour, Gunn also contributed to 1997Æs Music Evolution album.
In the last few years, Gunn has released three acclaimed solo albums: Young Gunn (1994); Gunn Fu (1997); and Love Requiem (2000). In February 2000, Gunn and his band, Ethnomusicology, were nominated for a Grammy Award for ôBest Contemporary Jazz Performance of the Year.ö