As young men, Tony Coleman and Russell Jackson first met in 1974 when they were in the U.S. army. When Jackson returned to Ft. Riley, KS after a two-year stint in South Korea, he was on an army bus when Tony, who was on the same bus, noticed the bass on Russell’s back. As he disembarked the bus, Tony shouted out to Russell to meet him the the next day at the army post, he was looking for a bass player to join a band. Russell was excited and eager to jam the next day. Another army buddy, guitarist Welton Everette, joined them and the band “Solid Funk” was created. The new group began performing locally.
The young musicians would often drop by Tony’s Aunt’s house in Kansas City, for it was a gathering place for the top musicians of the day who were members of the Kansas City Musician’s Association. Charlie Parker, Count Basie, John Coltrane, and many more frequented the home and of course, jams would take place.
In late 1975, Jackson and Coleman relocated to Chicago. They heard through a mutual army friend that Otis Clay was looking for a bass player and drummer. An audition was set up with Otis and his guitar player Leonard Gill, and Jackson and Coleman were hired on the spot. With money very tight, they were happy to accept Otis’s offer to sleep on the floor at the old Chess Records Studio, which happened to be where Otis had his office at that time.
In 1977 Otis took them on tour to Japan where they recorded his first live album “Otis Clay Live at Touranimin Hall,” released in 1978.
When they returned from Japan, the band played at the famed Burning Spear Club on the south Side of Chicago, where Jackson, Coleman & Gill earned a reputation for being a tight and polished rhythm section. There were always heavy hitters in the club, from Diana Ross to Bobby Bland, George Clinton and the man who became their new employer in 1979, Mr. B.B. King. (Coleman went on to play with Bobby Bland but joined B.B.’s band 3 years later) The band had what B.B. was looking for, a perfect blend of “old school, new school.”
After 7 years, Russell Jackson left to attend the Dick Grove School of Music, where he completed a three-year program in 18 months. Coleman remained with B.B. while Leonard Gill settled in the Bay Area.
In 1987, Coleman, Jackson and Gill reunited and formed Silent Partners. After 6 months Gill was replaced by Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones. Silent Partners quickly became the “renowned rhythm section” touring with Katie Webster, with whom they recorded “Swamp Boogie Queen” on the Alligator record label. They then went on to tour with Charlie Musselwhite, with whom Jr. Boy decided to join full time.
Coleman and Jackson relocated to Austin, TX and joined forces with guitarist Mel Brown, recording the Silent Partners debut album “If it’s All Night, It’s All Right” on the Antone Label. They often performed at the famous Antone’s Club and recorded a handful of other projects on the Antone label, including work by Matt Guitar Murphy in ‘87 and Luther Tucker in ‘89.
In 1990, the band broke up. Mel Brown went to Toronto, where he became a staple on the scene. Tony Coleman and Russell Jackson went to Vancouver, B.C. where they joined the Powder Blues Band. In 1992, they recorded on Long John Baldry’s album “It Ain’t Easy” with Lucky Peterson.
Nearly 35 years later, Tony Coleman received a call from award winning keyboardist Jim Pugh, who had built the Little Village Foundation, a non-profit record company in Santa Barbara, Ca. With Pugh’s persuasion, Silent Partners with Tony Coleman and Russell Jackson reunited once again to record. They invited Memphis based guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Ellison to join them. Silent Partners released their album “Changing Times” in June 2022 to rave reviews, with the album sitting at the top of the charts and garnering multiple award nominations in 2023.