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Trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist Russell Gunn was born and raised in Illinois; weaned on rap, he turned to jazz in his professional pursuits, although hip-hop remained a primary influence on his work. First attracting the attention of critics and audiences through his contributions to Wynton Marsalis' Blood on the Fields, Gunn also backed the likes of Jimmy Heath, Roy Hargrove, James Moody, and R&B hitmaker Maxwell, appearing on the latter's MTV Unplugged session. After a handful of independent releases, he signed to Atlantic to issue the solo Ethnomusicology, Vol. 1 in early 1999. That album was nominated for a Grammy in 2000. Smokingunn followed a year later and, in 2001, Gunn explored more of the same themes as the first volume of Ethnomusicology with Ethnomusicology, Vol. 2. Since that time, Gunn has released two more volumes in his "Ethnomusicology" series, including Ethnomusicology, Vol. 3 and Ethnomusicology, Vol. 4: Live in Atlanta. In 2007, the trumpeter paid homage to fellow St. Louis, IL, native and trumpet icon Miles Davis with Russell Gunn Plays Miles.