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Canadian Heritage

Russ Little


RUSSELL SCOTT 'RUSS' LITTLE (trombonist, arranger, conductor, composer) was born December 13, 1941 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was raised on the island of Jamaica for the first few years of his life before moving back to Canada to attend Malvern Collegiate Institute and the University of Toronto where (in 1966) he attained his honours degree in the Humanities, with special emphasis on History and English. It was during his time at Malvern Collegiate that he was taught trombone and inspired by the legendary teacher-trombonist George M. McRae.

Veteran of some of jazz history's most illustrious big bands, Russ Little's enduring career spans more than four decades at the forefront of the North American entertainment industry. By 1968 he was touring with the Woody Herman Orchestra as lead trombone and featured soloist; later, with the Count Basie Orchestra, he filled a similar role. While touring with these famed jazz orchestras, he found time to become an original member of Canada's preeminent Rock Orchestra, Lighthouse, a band with which he continues to perform.

Through the early '70s, Russ Little performed in Rob McConnell's world-famous "Boss Brass", while also pursuing a very successful career as conductor/composer/arranger for the CBC, CTV and Global television networks in Canada. He was also constantly busy writing and conducting for NBC, ABC, General Motors, NFL Football, and the famed SCTV comedy series in which he worked closely for many years with John Candy, Eugene Levy and Martin Short.

A consistently busy session-musician throughout his career, Russ decided that after a lifetime spent performing on other people's CDs, it was time to create his own. The much-lauded Snapshot CD was the first result of that decision. His second album Footwork debuted in 2006 to critical acclaim and worldwide sales. Russ Little’s eagerly-anticipated third CD, On the Shoulders of Giants (Rhythm Tracks), was launched in the Spring of 2008.


2007 – National Jazz Awards winner as ‘Saxophonist of the Year’

2008 – National Jazz Awards nominee as ‘Saxophonist of the Year’


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Russ Little with Joe Sealey at JAZZ.FM91