The difference between a jazz player and jazz musician is in the notes, and Russell Gunn hits all the right ones. At 35 years old, Gunn has an impressive resume: He has played with Oliver Lake and Wynton Marsalis, toured with Branford Marsalis, and appeared on Cee-Lo Green's (of Goodie Mob, and more recently, Gnarls Barkley) first album. He also performs weekly with his ensemble, Bionic, at jazz club favorite, Churchill Grounds in Midtown.
The East St. Louis, Illinois, native was lured from New York to Atlanta in 1998. "The music brought me to Atlanta," Gunn says. "I felt like I needed to be around music that represented a forward-thought process rhythmically and lyrically… Although now the ATL sound is pop music, I still think we have the only distinct personality in hop-hop, which is basically my mission in life."
The trumpeter, fluegelhornist and composer releases the album Krunk Jazz, with Bionic, on October 20; the release party is at Apache Café. "Krunk Jazz is exactly what it sounds like: jazz improvisation over crunk rhythms," he says. "I developed this sound after I moved to Atlanta."
The Atlantan produced a music issue that focused on the musicians who call Atlanta home. For this piece, I interviewed Russell Gunn, a noted jazz musician who specializes in "krunk jazz" (jazz improvisation over crunk rhythms). The section that this story appeared in received a MAG (Magazine Association of Georgia) Award.