Lossing was born in Ohio in 1960, and is from Columbus, Ohio. He had classical piano lessons from the age of 5 and began studying jazz aged 13 in Columbus at the Jazz and Contemporary Workshop with Dave Wheeler. After high school Lossing went on the road with a wide variety of bands including jazz, funk, rock, pop and country music for four years before attending university. He obtained a Bachelor of Music in piano at Ohio State University in 1986. In the early 1980s meetings with composer John Cage had a big effect:
We only had two occasions to get together and talk, but any time spent with him was utterly valuable. He read through my scores we played piano together. His thing was creating, not emulating: don't copy; trust YOURSELF. I was already going in this direction but this experience, listening to Cage's concepts and philosophy in this setting, made so much sense.
Lossing has been part of the New York jazz scene since 1986. In 1988 he earned a Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music. He has led or co-led numerous bands, including: his own trio with Masa Kamaguchi and Billy Mintz; Three-Part Invention with bassist Mark Helias and trumpeter Ralph Alessi; and duos with saxophonist Tim Berne, drummer Gerry Hemingway, and guitarist Ben Monder. Others are: trio with Paul Motian and Ed Schuller (Dreamer and As It Grows); trio with Mat Maneri and Mark Dresser (Metal Rat); trio with John Hebert and Jeff Williams (Phrase 6); quartet with Loren Stillman, John Hebert and Eric McPherson (Personal Tonal); King Vulture with Adam Kolker, Matt Pavolka and Dayeon Seok; and duos with saxophonist Loren Stillman, bassist John Hebert (Line Up,Hatology), and saxophonost Michael Adkins.
Lossing played with drummer Paul Motian over a period of 12 years and recorded Drum Music, a solo piano tribute album to him in 2011. The JazzTimes reviewer of Drum Music commented that "his two-fisted takes on 'Fiasco', 'Dance' and 'Drum Music' capture the great drummer's unpredictable and audacious rhythmic pulse. Lossing's stark re-imaginings of [... other Motian pieces] all vibrate with a new spirit of exploration." Swiss newspaper Der Sonntag wrote that "Drum Music is a stunning improvisational solo recital, a convincing plunge into 10 Motian compositions. This is music in between contemporary jazz and up to date tonal concert music."
Lossing has performed in some of the world's leading jazz festivals including the London, Vienna, Harlem, Cully (Switzerland), Toronto and Venice (Italy) Jazz festivals to name just a few. He has also performed in jazz clubs in New York and Europe including The Village Vanguard (with Paul Motian), Blue Note NYC, The Jazz Standard, Birdland, Porgy and Bess (Vienna), Unterfahrt (Munich), Jazz Club Ferrara (Italy) and many more over a span of 25 years.
In February 2016, Lossing was invited by John Zorn to do a week long residency at The Stone NYC in which he presented 12 of his ensembles over 6 nights.
Lossing has composed over 400 pieces of music in many genres including jazz, contemporary classical (solo piano works, string quartets, orchestral works and song cycles), song writing in various styles, pop, rock, funk, fusion (in early life), film scoring (30+ films). In 2015, he founded the record label Aqua Piazza.
ICON Magazine says, "Stylistically, Lossing is, simply, a 'space man' – like Thelonious Monk and Paul Bley, letting the spaces between notes do the talking."
Anders Griffen, reviewing Lossing's Oracle, said: "Listening to jazz music, we often hear the influence of the masters filtered through the hearts and minds of new artists. [...] However, listening to Russ Lossing's recent HatHut release, Oracle, we mainly hear Russ Lossing. It's not that the influences and the tradition are not present. On the contrary, it's all here and then some – from Scriabin to Bill Evans, Bartok to Paul Bley – but Lossing isn't a newcomer. [...] His phrases are formed with tone and touch the way a vocalist shapes words with breath and nuance to articulate the message, and he has developed an expansive vocabulary to spark and kindle his explorations."
Scott Yanow, reviewing Lossing's As It Grows, commented that the pianist "is influenced by modern classical music to an extent but his playing is not unremittingly atonal. Instead, he leaves his impressionistic music open to all possibilities, mostly emphasizing dramatic ideas and unexpected silences."
Lossing said of his own style: "Much 20th century composition is about interval play, especially Bartok and Schoenberg's. The 12-tone thing helped him to get his ideas onto paper, but it was always about the intervals. I'm a jazz pianist but my harmonic approach is based on this concept – finding new sounds and new expressions among the intervals."
An asterisk (*) indicates that the year is that of release.