Russ Kaplan is a musical storyteller. A creatively restless composer and a versatile keyboardist, he is equally at home in the worlds of jazz, rock, americana, and musical theatre. No matter what the genre, Russ always take his audience on a memorable journey.
As a theatre composer, Russ is one of the creators of Broadway's first-ever a cappella musical In Transit. His previous theatrical projects include the family musical Dear Albert Einstein (Off-Broadway alliance nominee for "Best Family Show"), the musical comedy anthology Shortstack, instrumental music for the Bessie award-winning dance company Third Rail Projects, and The Ulysses Cycle, a modern jazz suite which he plans to adapt into a full-length dance-theatre piece. Works in development include Dory Fantasmagory for NY City Children's Theatre, and The Clearwaters, a new full-length musical with In Transit co-author Sara Wordsworth and playwright Daniel John Kelley. Russ and Sara were recent finalists for the 2014 Fred Ebb Award.
Russ is also an active performing musician. His band Russ Kaplan+7 performs a unique hybrid of jazz, rock, funk and world music, featuring a supergroup of players from New York's jazz and indie rock scenes. They perform every two months as the house band of "Russ Kaplan's Broaday Jazz Session," re-interpreting new and old Broadway standards in innovative ways, with a who's who of fancy musical theatre guest vocalists. Their debut album of original pieces, The Ulysses Cycle, was released in 2013 on Philadelphia's Ropeadope Records. Russ has also performed with Brooklyn Americana favorite Chris Q. Murphy, roots-rockers The Randy Bandits, virtuoso violinist Judy Kang (Lady Gaga), drummer Claude Coleman Jr. (Ween), power pop maverick Richard X Heyman, dreamy jazz-rock outfit Small Dream Ada, and for the Upright Citizens Brigade's popular show Gravid Water.
As a kid, Russ was raised on a musical diet of classic rock, classic jazz, classic classical, and musical theatre. He attended Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama as a directing major, where he also studied jazz piano and improvisation with John D'Amico and the legendary saxophonist Eric Kloss. He also spent four years directing CMU's first mixed a cappella group, the Soundbytes, prompting a composer friend to inform him he'd become a "pop music whore". Russ still takes that as a compliment.
Russ teaches private rock/jazz piano lessons, and he is available for piano and accordion session work, vocal coaching, music direction and audition prep sessions.