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"BIRD FLY BY" can be purchased exclusively at: www.cdbaby.com/artist/russkassoff
BIRD FLY BY 5/29s RUSS KASSOFF "BIRD FLY BY"
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
“A really excellent cd! Love his playing, keep it coming!
It will be part of my playlists for many months to come.”
Peter Kuller - Jazz Presenter Radio Adelaide 101.5fm &
Bird Fly By with Russ Kassoff and his trio is an outstanding mix of
Broadway, the Great American Songbook and compositions by
Kudos to all. Bob Collins - Jazz Producer - WRHU
And then they wrote:
|Russ Kassoff at All About Jazz
Bird Fly By
Russ Kassoff | RHK Jazz (2010)
By JACK BOWERS
Published: October 30, 2010
Listing: Yes, Sir, That's My Baby; Bird Fly By; Edleweiss; Joy; As Life
Disappears; The Groove Merchant; The Heather on the Hill; A Breath of
Spring; One Minute More; Every Day I'm in Love with You; River Stay
'Way from My Door; New Sun in the Sky; Until It's Time for You to Go;
Elegy, Part 1--Suite for Gerry.
Personnel: Russ Kassoff:
piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Dennis Mackrel: drums; Adam Niewood: soprano
saxophone (4), tenor saxophone (14).
Bird Fly By opens,
appropriately enough, with Russ Kassoff 's unaccompanied piano
establishing an easygoing vibe on Gus Kahn / Walter Donaldson's
flapper-era standard, "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby." He's soon joined by
bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Dennis Mackrel for a groovy romp
that's all but certain to leave the listener smiling. Listening to that
prefatory number is all that's needed to understand that Kassoff
clearly loves what he is doing—and that he does it remarkably well.
musical philosophy could well be summed up in a word, "Joy ," which
coincidentally is the title of special guest Adam Niewood's sunny
composition, on which the composer's eloquent tenor saxophone
reinforces the trio. Kassoff's half-dozen originals includes the
plaintive "Elegy, Part 1—Suite for Gerry," dedicated to Niewood's
father, a superb woodwind player who died in a plane crash in February
2009. The younger Niewood reappears on that tune, this time on soprano
sax, to carry the ball most of the way. Kassoff also wrote "Bird Fly
By," "A Breath of Spring," "One Minute More," "As Life Disappears" and
"Every Day I'm in Love with You," each of which underscores his
impressive talents as a composer.
Standards not already noted
include Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Edelweiss," Lerner and Loewe's "The
Heather on the Hill," Howard Dietz / Arthur Schwartz's too-seldom-heard
"New Sun in the Sky" (complete with zestful boogie woogie licks) and
Mort Dixon / Harry Woods' "River Stay 'Way from My Door." Jerome
Richardson wrote the suitably named "The Groove Merchant," and Buffy
Sainte-Marie the lyrical "Until It's Time for You to Go." Kassoff plays
each one with equal parts warmth and intelligence, while his
quick-handed colleagues, Mackrel (the new director of the Count Basie
Orchestra) and Anderson, lend perceptive and unflagging support.
A delightful album by a pianist (and trio) who should be more widely known and appreciated.
| CD/LP Review | Published: June 20, 2010
Bird Fly By
Russ Kassoff | Self Produced (2010)
By EDWARD BLANCO - ALL ABOUT JAZZ
of this writing, jazz pianist Russ Kassoff is the pianist and conductor
of a seventeen-piece big band, and the musical director of Come Fly
Away the Twyla Tharp Broadway dance musical tribute to Frank Sinatra.
These associations became the inspiration and, as Kassoff states, the
"final piece of impetus...needed," for recording Bird Fly By. Not
surprising, however, considering an impressive musical résumé that
includes touring with Sinatra for over a decade, culminating in the
1989 "The Ultimate Event" world tour.
After a summer, 2008 concert
performance with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Dennis Mackrel,
Kassoff determined the chemistry to be perfect for this trio outing.
Saxophonist Adam Niewood—son of the late Gerry Niewood, friend and
co-founder of the Russ Kassoff Big Band—appears here as special guest,
lending his tenor voice to his father's composition, "Joy," later
playing soprano on "Elegy Part 1—Suite For Gerry," penned by the
pianist as a tribute piece for his late friend, and which ends the
album in gentle, graceful manner.
Originally recorded by Sinatra
with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, "Yes Sir That's My Baby," starts off
the set with Kassoff leading his trio in a light and mellow rendition.
The title piece follows in a similarly mellow fashion, this time
displaying beautiful color and showcasing the Kassoff's chops. Rodgers
and Hammerstein's "Edelweiss," made popular in the Julie Andrews movie
The Sound Of Music (1965), is performed by Kassoff in slow, classical
mode, accompanied by Mackrel's soft brush strokes.
Richardson's "The Groove Merchant" is skillfully reworked for the trio
setting, maintaining the same dicey groove of the original. One of the
most beautiful originals on the album is the very sensitive "As Life
Disappears," a message song almost soulful in expression, conveying a
feeling of quiet desperation at the thought of a life slipping away.
Kassoff goes solo on three pieces, "River Stay Away From My Door,"
"Until It's Time For You To Go" and "The Heather On The Hill," borrowed
from the 1947 Broadway musical Brigadoon.
The music continues
with several more originals, including "One Minute More," "A Breath of
Spring," and "Every Day I'm In Love With You"—all part of the same
gentle landscape. Except for the bouncy "New Sun In The Sky," where the
pianist runs all over the keyboard, there are few swinging pieces or
hard-driving bop melodies here. Preferring a lofty mellow sound, Russ
Kassoff takes flight on another album of soft light jazz with Bird Fly
By, soaring well above the ordinary trio projects that abound these
Track listing: Yes Sir That's My Baby; Bird Fly By;
Edelweiss; Joy; As Life Dissapears; The Groove Merchant; The Heather On
The Hill; A Breath of Spring; One Minute More; Every Day I'm In Love
With You; River Stay Away From My Door; New Sun In The Sky; Until It's
Time for You to Go; Elegy Part 1--Suite for Gerry.
Russ Kassoff: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Dennis Mackrel: drums; Adam
Niewood: soprano saxophone (4), tenor saxophone (14).
By Brad Walseth - 7/19/10
Russ Kassoff - "Bird Fly By"
pianist, composer/arranger/conductor and more Russ Kassoff's bio reads
like a thing of dreams: longtime pianist and musical director for both
Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli, co-founded a big band that included
the late Gerry Niewood; accompanied Tony Bennett, Rita Moreno (with
whom he still continues as MD) , Paul Anka and many more; and recorded
albums with people like Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Red Norvo, Carly
Simon and Rod Stewart. Currently, Kassoff has been leading a 17-piece
big band as musical director for choreographer Twyla Tharp's Broadway
show tribute to Frank Sinatra - Come Fly Away. On Kassoff's sophomore
release in a solo/trio setting, the pianist presents an eclectic group
of songs ranging from "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" to the Sound of Music's
"Edelweiss" to Buffy Saint-Marie's "Until It's Time for You to Go" to
Jerome Richardson's "The Groove Merchant" (made famous by the Thad
Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band), Brigadoon's "The Heather on the Hill" and
Schwartz/Dietz's "New Sun in the Sky." Add in a cover of Gerry
Niewood's "Joy," an original tribute to the late saxman ("Elegy - Part
1 - Suite for Gerry") and several other Kassoff-penned compositions and
you have the makings of an album that is sure to keep the listener's
interest. Adding their talents to Kassoff's world-class piano skills on
this session are first-call NYC musicians - bassist Jay Anderson and
drummer Dennis Mackrel, as well as Gerry Niewood's talented son - Adam
on soprano and tenor sax on a couple tracks. Kassoff's piano playing is
light and pleasant and as to be expected - well-versed in traditional
technique. This sprightly touch truly enhances pieces like the lovely
title track - which skitters like a bird across your senses. There is
an obvious camaraderie between the trio members, and Niewood adds some
deeply heartfelt playing as tribute to his late father. Kassoff and
crew prove to be as adept at up-tempo charmers ("The Groove Merchant,"
"Joy," "A Breath of Spring") as ballads ("As Life Disappears," the solo
"The Heather on the Hill") and Kassoff's original compositions are as
strong and appealing as the covers. Meanwhile, the recorded sound is
beautifully clean and warm and a joy to listen to. If you love jazz
piano solos, you will take to this recording like a fish to water, or a
bird to the air.
RUSS KASSOFF, PIANO, and BAND
BIRD FLY BY
By: ROB LESTER - TALKIN' BROADWAY
his earlier recent album under his own name, pianist/conductor Russ
Kassoff brings a welcome understated touch, modest but masterful, to
standards and attractive originals—so much so that one is tempted to
nickname him "No-Fuss Russ." His long career has included jazz trio
gigs, work with Rita Moreno, Liza Minnelli, Yvonne Constant (in her
current cabaret shows of French songs) and Frank Sinatra, whose songs
he's focused on these days as Broadway pianist/conductor of the live
orchestra augmenting Frank Sinatra's recorded vocals in Come Fly Away
with Twyla Tharp's dancers.
This 70-minute instrumental outing
is not a tie-in CD, despite the presence of a couple of songs Sinatra
recorded and the word "fly" in the album's title song. It's one of four
very accessible and easy-flowing originals which have lyrics penned by
past collaborator Deirdre Broderick; yes, I said it's an
all-instrumental album, and it is, but the words are provided in the
packaging anyway. The heartfelt lyrics are direct and unpretentious
like the melodies they match, and it's easy enough to sing them in your
head because the playing is straightforward before things take jazzier,
exploratory turns once established. (Tracks are mostly on the long
side, most over four minutes and the title song clocking in at a
feather more than six-and-a-half.)
Although they don't ape the
personality and tempi or arrangements of them, the two numbers Sinatra
recorded, the assertive-but-bouncy piano solo of "River, Stay 'Way from
My Door" and the strutting oldie "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby" are nifty
numbers with lots of flair and a bit of flash.
repertoire, with three songs of different decades, are major highlights
here. One is the sprightly, wonderfully building strut of the Schwartz
and Dietz "New Sun in the Sky" from the 1931 revue The Band Wagon
(being developed for a return to the boards) and heard in the
much-later movie of the same name that used some of its songs. On the
much gentler side, there are exquisite, wistful "hold your breath"
takes on "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music and a piano solo on
Brigadoon's "The Heather on the Hill," tip-toeing their way from and
into the heart with delicacy. Perhaps being on Broadway has gotten into
Russ's blood, as you might hear a fleeting reference to another show
currently on the boards again, West Side Story, in one arrangement.
some tracks, the leader gives generous spotlight time to his ace
bandmates, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Dennis Mackrel. Two tracks
salute the late saxophonist-composer Gerry Niewood, who was a Kassoff
colleague and friend. One is an original, "Elegy—Part 1" and the other,
the Niewood composition called "Joy." Son Adam Niewood, also a sax man,
is on hand for these two tracks and makes a strong impression with
talent and skill as well as bringing variety to the sound menu.
whole album makes a strong, yet at the same time often subtle,
impression, inviting repeat plays. I've logged frequent Flyer miles
since receiving an early copy.
- Rob Lester
RUSS KASSOFF has a new album, Bird Fly By (RHK Jazz – 201) that nicely
blends some melodic Kassoff originals with several standards that
offers him the opportunity to demonstrate his versatility as a player,
as well as his impressive compositional gifts. He is joined in
this endeavor by Jay Anderson on bass and Dennis Mackrel on
drums. Saxophonist Adam Niewood is added for two tracks, his late
father Gerry’s tune, “Joy,” and the first part of the suite written in
Gerry’s memory by Kassoff, “Elegy.” Both of these selections are
special for both Kassoff and Adam Neiwood, as Gerry Niewood’s life was
ended in a fatal airplane crash last year. He had been a member
of Kassoff’s big band, and was a large influence on his son as a father
and as a musician. Kassoff’s playing is ebullient on some tunes
and delicately sensitive when that is the appropriate option. His
original songs cry out for lyrics, and Dierdre Broderick has written
words for four of them. There are no vocals on the album, but the
lyrics are printed on the packaging. Hopefully, the songs will be
recorded with the lyrics which read well. Russ Kassoff and his
superb trio have made one fine album! - Joe Lang - New Jersey
RUSS KASSOFF - KNICKERBOCKER DEC 10 and 11, 2010
HOT HOUSE SPOTLIGHT - DECEMBER ISSUE 2010 - By: GEORGE KANZLER
Russ Kassoff gets lots of mileage out of what Frank Sinatra told him in
1987: "You are the best." That's a nice accolade, but Kassoff has
better props to stand on these days, namely his piano artistry, which
has constantly improved, as evidenced by his fine ne CD, Bird Fly By (RHKJazz),
wherin his talent for illuminating songs - some lesser known standards
like Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Edelweiss", others adapted from pop or
folk sources, like Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Until It's Time For You To Go"
- is matched by his talent for composing memorable melodies and
delivering them with a graceful, swinging touch. Here he'll be joined
by guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and bassists Jay Anderson (Dec 10) and
Gary Mazzaroppi (Dec 11) GK... http://www.hothousejazz.com