Early press about Bird Fly By:
"...Such a variety of ideas and tempos, you are all having a good time, up to date and swinging!" - Marian McPartland
"Smooth, intelligent…." - Twyla Tharp
"…Great performance, wonderful variety in the choice of material and a beautiful tribute to Gerry Niewood." Jazz sax legend - Jerry Dodgion
* * * *
About Russ Kassoff -
Currently, Russ is the music director/conductor/pianist for COME FLY AWAY, Twyla Tharp's Broadway show tribute to Frank Sinatra featuring 15 magnificent dancers and a spectacular 17-piece live big band performing to the recorded Sinatra tracks plus live vocals by Hilary Gardner and Rosena M. Hill. Russ continues to be MD to Rita Moreno, Debbie Gravitte (Big Band Broadway with the Russ Kassoff Big Band and many "in concert" appearances), Catherine Dupuis (JazzPA's Summer Jazz Celebration, Sackets Harbor Jazz Festival and many varied club appearances), French chanteuse Yvonne Constant, and many others.
Russ Kassoff is an accomplished jazz pianist, conductor, composer, orchestrator and arranger, whose varied talents are much valued and on display in the music world. His second solo/trio release "BIRD FLY BY" will begin its radio flight on June 14, 2010 followed by a release concert in the near future. His first solo/trio CD "SOMEWHERE" was released in concert at Steinway Hall on September 12, 2006.
Russ toured as pianist to Frank Sinatra by request from '80-'91, including The Ultimate Event tour ('88-'89) televised nationally on PBS featuring Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Liza Minnelli. Russ also served as Liza's pianist from '82-'01 and as Minnelli's music director and conductor for the acclaimed Minnelli on Minnelli national tour ('00). In '98 Russ was also pianist/conductor on Broadway to Charles Aznavour in concert. Russ has been a guest on NPR's Piano Jazz with Marion McPartland as a result of his 2006 release – SOMEWHERE.
Russ's eclectic and varied recording career includes albums with Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli, Red Norvo, Chris Connor, Sylvia Syms, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, Mimi Hines, Catherine Dupuis, Martha Lorin to name a few. In addition to Sinatra and Minnelli, as a pianist, music director and/or conductor, Russ has accompanied a multi-varied list of performers including: Steve Allen, Paul Anka, Tony Bennett, Sammy Cahn, Liz Callaway, Claiborne Cary, Vic Damone, Catherine Dupuis, Debbie Gravitte, Buddy Greco, Gregory Hines, Mimi Hines, Carol Lawrence, Ute Lemper, Monica Mancini, Barry Manilow, Amanda McBroom, Susannah McCorkle, Maureen McGovern, Patrice Munsel, Toby Parker, John Pizzarelli, Faith Prince, Trudy Richards, Ginger Rogers, Annie Ross, Carly Simon, Carol Sloane, Sylvia Syms, and Luciano Pavarotti (duet with Liza for Pavarotti & Friends in 1996).
In New York, Russ has performed countless times at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the New York State Theatre, The Kaplan Penthouse and Town Hall. At the National Arts Club, Russ has produced six command performances for the membership. In the 1980's, he performed regularly at Bradley's and One Fifth Avenue. Russ has been a regular performer at the acclaimed Knickerbocker jazz club since 1984.
As a concert jazz pianist, Russ has been featured at JazzPA's Summer Jazz Celebration five times (again this year – July 24 - with Wycliffe Gordon, Jay Leonhart and Dennis Mackrel), the Pensacola Jazz Festival (3 times including April 2010), and the Toronto Jazz Festival (with Carol Sloane). Russ was the music director/coordinator and pianist for the Sackets Harbor (NY) Jazz Festival from 2000-2008 (with Rob McConnell, Harry Allen, Joe Cohn, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ken Peplowski, Ted Nash, Marvin Stamm, Mark Murphy, Jerry Dodgion and Catherine Dupuis with various incredible rhythm sections).
Russ has performed as a member of many jazz groups, most notably with the Bucky Pizzarelli Trio in the 1980's at the Cafe Pierre for many years, and continues a musical relationship with him playing many concerts and jazz festivals. Russ was also a regular member of Peter Appleyard's Benny Goodman Alumni, touring Canada extensively in the mid-1980's.
Russ's arrangements and orchestrations have appeared in many different settings. From full orchestra for Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Debbie Gravitte, and Charles Aznavour to intimate groups for Rita Moreno, Catherine Dupuis, Sylvia Syms, Mimi Hines, Chris Connor, John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli and Trudi Richards. Russ is also the sole writer and arranger for the concert book of the Russ Kassoff Big Band, has performed with Tony Award winner Debbie Gravitte in Big Band Broadway and has had the band featured in concert at the Milford (PA) Music Festival, Bargemusic, St. Peter's Church at Citicorp in NYCand regularly at the Bahai Center in NYC.
As associate producer, Russ wrote all of the arrangements, conducted, contracted and recorded CD's for Catherine Dupuis (The Rules Of The Road), Martha Lorin (Blues Over Broadway) and several others.
As a composer, one of Russ's many songs teamed with magnificent lyricist, Deirdre Broderick, "I Remember," qualified for the penultimate round towards a 2005 Grammy Nomination.
Russ holds a B.M. in performance from the Crane School of Music, SUNY-Potsdam, 1974. He grew up in Brooklyn and Merrick, NY and began working professionally in the Catskills at the age of 13.