Trumpeter Russell Jacquet was born in St. Martinville, Louisiana, on December 4, 1917. Jacquet’s family moved to Houston, Texas, about 1923, when he was a child, and shortly thereafter he started playing the trumpet. His father, Gilbert Jacquet, a French Creole, nurtured his children's musical development and played in local big bands. Eventually he formed a family band with his sons Russell, Illinois, and Linton. Russell and his brothers started their own group, the California Playboy Band, and played locally from 1934 to 1937.
Two years later Russell joined Ray Floyd's Orchestra, before entering Wiley College. In 1940 he headed for Los Angeles to perform with his brother Illinois. During this period Russell also apparently led a band. Though his band's extensive recordings included the well-known "Merle's Mood," Jacquet reached greater fame while playing for his brother. Several recordings and a tour of Europe with Illinois made Jacquet a household name among jazz enthusiasts. Eventually, however, Russell faded from the jazz scene. He taught in the Los Angeles public schools before moving to Oakland, California, in 1959. He continued to play now and then with his brother and with other performers such as Ike and Tina Turner. He died of a heart attack in Oakland on March 4, 1990.