Born in Sardinia, Italy, in 1956, guitarist and composer Pietro Russino has lived and worked in New York City since 1981.
His early musical influences were American R&B, 1960’s Italian pop songs he heard on the jukebox at his family’s bar, and the folk music played in his hometown of Tempio Pausania. At age 11 he convinced his father to buy him his first guitar, and at 15 he was hired as lead guitarist and “chord finder” by an established cover band. Charts were unavailable at the time, and he had to do this job by ear. In his late teens Pietro decided it was time to get a deeper understanding of his art. His private studies of classical guitar and music theory led him to explorations of many styles and to his enduring fascination with steel-string finger-style repertoire. Combining his love of rock traditions with classical finger picking and his own blend of improvised Mediterranean folk melodies, Russino has brought his unique skills as a musician, arranger and composer to a wide variety of musical endeavors. His music has been featured on MTV and on John Shaefer’s WNYC show “New Sounds.” He founded, with the greatly missed singer and art gallery owner Pat Hearn, the legendary band “Wild and Wonderful,” an art trio that was a fixture of the New York East Village art scene of the early 1980’s. Russino worked extensively with Robert Fripp and the “League of Crafty Guitarists,” touring throughout America and Europe, and recording for EG and Fripp’s DGM label, which showcased his composition, “Fragments of Skylab.” He studied improvisation and composition with Karl Berger of the Creative Musicians Workshop in Woodstock, New York. During the mid-1990’s his instrumental progressive-world-rock band “The Point,” which recorded the self-produced album “The Bridge,” became the principle outlet for Russino’s compositions. In 1994 he wrote the score for a documentary on Giancarlo Neri’s art installation, “New York Roofs Project,” that was aired on RAI Italian television. His most recent collaborations include recording and performing with New England singer-songwriter Joel Zoss. The soundtrack he wrote and performed for director Richard Sylvarnes’ film “HCE” which was premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, he’s a member of The Diaz Quartet, an ensemble led by his long time friend and fellow Crafty guitarist Jon Diaz, this group recorded “Circling From Above” and “To Flutter”, two examples of great world music and beyond.
For the last 15 years Russino has focused on exploring the possibilities of the looping technology, a method he employs in the studio as well as in his live performances, to create hypnotic dances reminiscent of his native land. His music is a unique blend of Mediterranean roots, organic blues grooves, British folk, and odd-meter progressive rock, he calls this musical mix (HYPNOFOLK) the title of his first solo project.
Russino is co-owner with his brother, drummer Massimo, of the establishment called Da Ugo, a music venue-restaurant-bar located on the beach of Porto Taverna, Sardinia. As musical director, Russino has drawn upon Sardinia’s thriving music scene to make Da Ugo, which features great food in a breathtaking natural setting, a Mecca of jazz and progressive acoustic music.