Russ Kassoff

 
RK's Solo/Trio CD "BIRD FLY BY "
     

 

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Reviews:

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

5/29s RUSS KASSOFF "BIRD FLY BY"
         
“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 & www.radio.adelaide.edu.au

6/5/10 - Bird Fly By with Russ Kassoff and his trio is an outstanding mix of  Broadway,  the Great American Songbook and compositions by Russ himself.
Kudos to all.  Bob Collins - Jazz Producer - WRHU
Performance Reviews:

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

Track 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.

Kassoff's 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

As 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.

Jerome 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 days.

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.

Personnel: Russ Kassoff: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Dennis Mackrel: drums; Adam Niewood: soprano saxophone (4), tenor saxophone (14).

http://www.jazzchicago.net/reviews/2010/QuickHits13.html
By Brad Walseth - 7/19/10

Russ Kassoff - "Bird Fly By"
(RHK Jazz)
Jazz 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.
www.russkassoff.com

RUSS KASSOFF, PIANO, and BAND
BIRD FLY BY
RHK Jazz

By: ROB LESTER - TALKIN' BROADWAY

Like 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.

Musical theater 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.

On 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.

The 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

http://www.talkinbroadway.com/sound/june2410.html


Pianist 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 Jazz Society

RUSS KASSOFF - KNICKERBOCKER DEC 10 and 11, 2010
HOT HOUSE SPOTLIGHT - DECEMBER ISSUE 2010 - By: GEORGE KANZLER
Pianis 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
 
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