Lenny Russo has been behind a drum set laying down the beat, as he likes to say, “Since Harry Truman was President.” We’ll, maybe since Eisenhower. Beginning with Len’s first band at the Teen Canteen at Cleveland’s Nathan Hale Junior High where he was paid all of $5.00, Lenny has been a steady and driving rhythmic force. Schooled in classic rudimentary drumming and having led the drum sections at John Adams High and the Cleveland All-City High School Concert Band, Lenny is no stranger to musical organizations with exacting standards that carried through to his stint with the Kent State University Marching Band, with the dynamic Tommy Talon and the Four Coachmen and into the 21st Century with the final edition of the swinging Tony Carmen Band. While at Kent State Lenny served on the staff of WKSU-FM and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Speech/Broadcasting.
Though Dixieland was his first great musical love, Lenny soon got into the swing of things with Big Bands as well as the smaller but no less powerful Jazz, and Rhythm and Blues groups. Good music, he quickly found, can come in any number of combinations and styles.
Lenny voluntarily put his musical career on hold from 1966-1971 while piloting helicopters in the Air Force, including a year in Viet Nam with the 40th Air Rescue Squadron; “The Jolly Greens.” Lenny always made it a point to take his drums sticks where ever he went, and while on leave in the Orient, got to jam with top bands in Manila, Bangkok, Taipei and Hong Kong. Good music, he found, is truly a universal language.
The list of fine musicians Lenny has worked with is endless. Here are just a few. ORGAN: Roger Flanders, Ed Mcketa, Marti Manke, Karen Durant, Frank Samson, Allen Kacenjar, Jim Orlando. SAX: Lee Able, Sammy Dee, Carl Gulla, Jim Saleem, Bob Shampay. Karl Zahtilla, Jimmy Mendolera, Micky Hoff, Chuck Tarrantino, Earl Schlabach, Jack Moga, Andy Veres. PIANO: Lenny Orcino, Harry Hershey, Al Carr, Don Banks, Virgil Vincent, Tony Morino, Larry Salvatore, Herb Wise. GUITAR: Paul Ricci, Joey Simms, Dave Temple, Ralph Kuta, Mark Logies, Ron Frankowitz, Norm Tozzi. TRUMPET: Bobby Findley, Ron Klominek, Bob Laneese, Tony Carmen, Bob Berry, Ian Indorf, Joe Trczinski. TROMBONE: Pat Noon, Jim Hultin, Jim Brenner, Al Javorcky, Bruce Lehtinen, Jim Hronek. BASS: Chink Stevenson, Chuck Jones, Kenny Siefert, Chuck Reiman. ACCCORDION: Joey Dee, Micky Aquilino, Paul Terry, Frank Cardone, Rico Giamarco. BANJO: Eddie Teener, Cliff Murphy. VOCALISTS: Mike Fugo, Sandy Gulla Green, Rosemary Scotlind, and Carol Jaye. And last but not least, Big Band leader Johnny Long of “In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town” fame.