Russell, Bill [William; Wagner, Russell William]
- Mike Hazeldine
- , revised by Barry Kernfeld
[William; Wagner, Russell William]
(b Canton, MO, Feb 26, 1905; d New Orleans, Aug 9, 1992). American jazz historian, record producer, violinist, and composer. He played violin from the age of ten, and later studied music in Chicago (1924). After private violin tuition in New York (1927) he attended Columbia University Teachers College (1929), where he took up composition; around 1930 he dropped his surname, Wagner, to avoid comparisons with a rather more famous composer in the field. While touring with a theatrical group, the Red Gate Shadow Players, which staged classical Chinese puppet plays (1934–40), he began collecting early jazz records, reselling many through the Hot Record Exchange that he ran from 1935 with the painter Steve Smith. He contributed articles to the magazine Jazz hot and wrote three chapters of Jazzmen: the Story of Hot Jazz Told in the Lives of the Men who Created it...