Born in Denver, Colorado in 1947, son of trombonist Russ Phillips (Sr.) (1912-1987), the trombonist who replaced Jack Teagarden with Louis Armstrong’s All Stars in 1951. Russ Sr. played with Louie for a year and a half before settling in the Chicago area in 1952. Russ’s life as a trombonist began backstage as a 4-and 5-year-old listening to his dad play with the All Stars.
His education on the trombone started with his father and continued through grammar school, high school and into college and included study wth Bob Lambert and Frank Crisafuli of the Chicago Symphony. Trombone heroes include Russ Phillips Sr., Jack Teagarden, Abe Lincoln, Cutty Cutshall, J.C. Higginbotham, J.J. Johnson, Slide Hampton, Frank Rosolino, Kai Winding, Carl Fontana.
Russ is adept at performing in a variety of musical settings, from classical ensembles and pit orchestras to big bands, small swing and traditional units, and rock ‘n roll horn sections. Some of his experience has included performance at concerts and festivals with Howard Alden, Doc Cheatham, Kenny Davern, the Four Freshman, Bob Haggart, Lionel Hampton, Chuck Hedges, Dick Hyman, Don Goldie, Bobby Lewis, Tommy Newsom, Tom Saunders, Doc Severinsen, John Sheridan, The Chicago Cub Quintet including Ted Butterman, Kim Cusack and Mike Walbridge, appearances on the “Live at the Landing” radio series with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, The Temptations, and many others.