MAXJAZZ, 2004, CD
Jazz Ruler Type: Bebop
O’s Notes: Russell partners with his traveling band: EJ Strickland (d), Martin Bejerano (p) and Tassili Bond (b) as well as two strong veterans, Joe Locke (vibes) and Gary Bartz (sax) for Playground. The bonds between them are strong which leads to seamless exchanges. Most of the music was written and arranged by Malone who also produced the set. Russell’s mellow sound and prowess on guitar make his music easy to listen to. We especially liked the title track and the cover of “We’ve Only Just Begun” which demonstrate Malone’s ability to burn as well as simmer.