(Phil Sims, trombonist, bandleader, composer, and arranger appears as a guest author on JazzBuffalo’s Jazz In Town. In this exclusive article written for JazzBuffalo, Phil introduces us to the next featured saxophonist for the Artisan Jazz First Sunday Series, Russ D’Alba. The next Artisan Jazz First Sunday Series will be held at the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, NY. on Sunday, July 7th beginning at 6 pm.)
In our fourth installment of Artisan Jazz First Sundays at The Historic Roycroft Inn (World-renowned Saxophonists off Western New York), we feature saxophonist, Russ D’Alba.
Russell D’Alba and I go back as far as I can remember my musical career. We sat in the Erie County All-County Band on stage at Kleinhans in elementary school. Though we largely missed out on each other through the rest of grade school, save for all-county performances, it was right after graduation from high school that Russ and I teamed up, again, this time touring with a Las Vegas-styled show group. Russ and I have been friends all this time, and band-mates, as well.l Russ introduced me to many of the WNY jazz stars of the ’70s and helped me form the Buffalo Brass Big band in the mid-1980s.
Russell was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, studied with John Sedola [of the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini], Ed Yadzinski [of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra] and Tony Carere [a renowned woodwind doubler and Jazz Saxophonist]. Russ attended UB as a dual major – Music and Accounting (he is a CPA). We attended together, and had many great times, amassing many great stories. Only Russ ended up the accountant.
Some highlights of Russ’s live music performances include concert performances with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Chautauqua Symphony, Sarah Vaughan [at Carnegie Hall], Nancy Wilson, Natalie Cole, Nancy Kelly, George Benson, Lou Rawls, Mark Murphy, The 4 Freshmen, Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra Jr, Aretha Franklin, Donna Summers, Stan Kenton Big Band, Tommy Dorsey Big Band, Gap Mangione’s Big Band, Michael Civisca, Doc Severinsen Orchestra, Don Menza Big Band, Ed Shaughnessy, Louie Bellson, Mel Lewis, Rob McConnell, and the 75thBirthday “Stratospheric” celebration in Los Angeles honoring Maynard Ferguson.
Russ has recorded with The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (The Gershwin album), The Buffalo Brass (It’s Time), Jeff Jarvis Jazz Trumpeter (Contents Under Pressure), The Don Menza Big Band (Menza Lines), the Emil Palame Big Band, Jeff Tain Watts and Kenny Drew Jr [on Black Hawk Records], the Dave Stevens Big Band, and numerous others. Additionally, he has recorded dozens of jingles and other promotional recordings.
Throughout his career, Russ has had the opportunity to play with not only wonderful musicians, but also in the orchestras of some great comedic legends. [George Burns, Jay Leno, Redd Fox, Buddy Hacket, Joan Rivers, Morri Amsterdam, and others]. He performed on stage as part of Rodney Dangerfield’s act. [as “Niles Bitchlee”, one of 3 musical sidekicks]
These days, Russ performs primarily in the Western New York area with the Phil Sims’ Cabaret Band, Musicians of Buffalo Big Band [MOBBB], and various small Jazz groups. On Sunday, July 7th, Russ and Phil will team up, again as bandmates to perform an evening of great jazz, along with a backline of guitarist George Kane, bassist Paul Zapalowski, and drummer Tom Kasperek. We look forward to seeing you there.
The concert takes place on Sunday, July 7th beginning at 6 pm to 8:30 pm