Helen has been a constant on the Brisbane jazz scene since the late 80s, performing with both the old guard and the-up-and-comers.
Late in 1990, Helen joined Bebopera (Leah Cotterell – vocals, Tony Hobbs – saxophones, Steve Russell – piano, and Ken Edie – drums) – at that time, the most successful and innovative of Brisbane’s jazz scene. When Bebopera folded, after a busy few years including tours to Sydney for performances at the Manly Jazz Festival, and iconic venues such as Soup Plus, Helen started the quartet Good Bait.
Alexandra: “A long gestation for this one! This chord progression was written at the age of 16, around the time of the birth of my first niece, Alexandra (now known as Ali). As a jazz musician, I was never happy with the original melody and finally sat down to write a new one 30 years later!” —HR
Good Bait (Andrew McNaughton – trumpet, Jamie Clark – guitar, and Paul Hudson – drums) spent the latter half of the ‘90s playing gigs and festivals around Brisbane. In 1997, with support from the Australia Council, they recorded their eponymous album featuring compositions by Clark & McNaughton, released in 1998 to critical acclaim. When McNaughton moved to Melbourne for some years, the band continued as a trio. In more recent times, the trumpeter has returned to Brisbane and the band has performed again as a quartet.
Neville Meyers, Courier Mail
Darryl Chen, Jazzwire
Philip Matlock, Origin Records
The Russell Siblings (Sharny – vocals/piano, and Steve – piano) have performed regularly together since the 90s and continue to do so to this day.
Come Dance Me Dear: “This song was actually written for my bass/vocal duo with Leah Cotterell, but became a staple for the Brand New Sweeties when I arranged it for the 7-piece.” —HR. Music & arrangement by Helen Russell, lyrics by Leah Cotterell.
Helen has also performed and recorded with the Louise Denson Group, Ingrid James, Leigh Carriage, The Brand New Sweeties and Josh Hatcher.