Russ Kassoff

RK Big Band


featuring Jazz Vocalist  Catherine Dupuis

Wednesday - February 28, 2018 —  1 Set - 1-2PM
Saint Peter's Church - Midday Jazz Midtown
Produced by the legendary Ronny Whyte
619 Lexington Avenue on E 54th Street - NYC
$10 Suggested Donation at the Door




The Local 802 Musician's Emergency Relief Fund Presents

A Benefit Concert For Musicians In Need

Jazz Vocalist  Catherine Dupuis

And Special Guest Don Shelden (Sinatra Jukebox)

with special arrangements by Marion Evans!

Thursday - March 8, 2018 —  1 Set From 5-6:30PM

The Local 802 Club Room

322 W. 48th St. (Between 8th & 9th Avenue) - NYC
Information:  Bettina Covo (212) 245-4802 ext. 152
Your donations will support the Local 802 Musicians' Emergency Relief Fund, which helps musicians in need.

NEW YORK 1/12/18 The Russ Kassoff Big Band, led by renowned jazz pianist, composer and arranger Russ Kassoff, will  perform in concert  at Midday Jazz Midtown:

Wed February 28 from 1-2PM at SAINT PETER'S CHURCH - 619 Lexington Avenue on E. 54th St. Midday Jazz Midtown is a series of hour-long concerts most Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. | $10 suggested donation. | Produced by Ronny Whyte for Midtown Arts Common  The band features guest vocalist Catherine Dupuis.


THURSDAY 3/8/18 The Russ Kassoff Big Band will perform IN CONCERT Benefitting the LOCAL 802 EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND (ERF) - ONE SET from 5-6:30PM at the LOCAL 802 CLUB ROOM - 322 West 48th St - 1st Floor - Between 8th & 9th Avenue. FOR INFORMATION CALL BETTINO COVO AT 212 245-4802 ext 152 or Your onations will support the Local 802 Musicians' Emergency Relief Fund, which helps musicians in need.

Our featured vocalists will be Catherine Dupuis who will be joined by Don Shelden (SINATRA JUKEBOX!) and his Marion Evans arrangements.

Copies of Mr. Kassoff's critically acclaimed CD Bird Fly By AND his 2006 CD Somewhere will be available at the concert. Both are also available at

The Russ Kassoff Big Band was formed in 2003 after a successful run of concerts featuring Russ as featured composer, arranger, orchestrator, and piano soloist. The virtuosity of the magnificent musicians in the band contributes to the new fresh sound of these hard-swinging original charts. Russ's repertoire is eclectic and diverse, including many new and innovative arrangements of his original compositions in addition to such classics as Ellington's Perdido, Horace Silver's The Preacher,  Fats Waller's The Joint Is Jumpin', and Tori Amos' Winter.

The roster of players who have regularly performed in the band over the years includes: Ted Nash, Lawrence Feldman, Kurt Bacher, Caleb Curtis, Andy Fusco, Matt Hong, Rick Kriska, Kristy Norter, Dan Block, Gary Keller, Ken Hitchcock, Gerry Niewood, Dave Noland, Carl Maraghi, Ed Xiques, Tony Lustig, Bob Millikan, Tony Kadleck, Mike Ponella, Glenn Drewes, Brian Pareschi, Shawn Edmonds, Kenny Rampton, Colin Brigstocke, Bud Burridge, John Chudoba, Greg Gisbert, Dave Trigg, Clint Sharman, Charley Gordon, Bruce Bonvissutto (contractor), George Flynn, Nathan Mayland, Pete McGuinness, Dale Kirkland, Bob Suttman, Dave Bargeron, Johannes Pfannkuch, Jennifer Wharton, Tim Sessions, Jack Schatz, Jay Anderson, Jay Leonhart, Gary Mazzaroppi, Ray Kilday, Dick Sarpola, Mike Hall, Maryanne McSweeney, John Arbo, Chip Jackson, John Miller, Joe Cohn, Gene Bertoncini, James Cirillo, Dennis Mackrel, Ray Marchica, Warren Odze, Ronnie Zito, Rich Derosa and vocalists Catherine Dupuis, Martha Lorin and Tony winner Debbie Gravitte (Big Band Broadway!) just to name a few. Most likely the band performing will be from this tremendous roster! 

Russ toured extensively with legends Frank Sinatra by request ('80-'91) and Liza Minnelli ('82-'01). As a writer, Russ counts among his major influences Rob McConnell, Thad Jones, Nelson Riddle, Don Costa and Don Sebesky 
naming just a few.

As a pianist his influences include Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett. All members of the Russ Kassoff Big Band are among a small group of the best free lance musicians in the world. Together they form a vast bio of many worlds of performing experience. Russ - with Sinatra, Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Mimi Hines, Susannah McCorkle, Carol Sloan, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, Chris Connor, Bucky Pizzarelli, and countless others - is joined by his band members who also bring their experience - with Count Basie, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Sting, Natalie Cole - just about everyone in the traditions of American jazz and show business - not to mention the Broadway shows currently being played by these marvelous players.

The 17 piece band has performed regularly at the Bahai Center in NYC as part of the wonderful Tuesday night jazz series in the Dizzy Gillespie auditorium produced by jazz great Mike Longo, and has backed Tony Award Winner Debbie Gravitte in a show/concert created by Russ and Debbie called "BIG BAND BROADWAY" at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ct., and at BIRDLAND in NYC, has been the featured performer at the 2nd annual Milford, PA Music Festival under the coordination of Martha Lorin, and has been heard on the 1010 WINS Radio Jingle promoting LIVE MUSIC in the NY Metropolitan area sponsored by LOCAL 802 AFM, NY's musicians union! The RKBB also has appeared annually in the sanctuary at St. Peter's Lutheran Church at the Citicorp Center most recently honoring in tribute to Gerry Niewood, a founding member and world class saxophonist who perished in the Buffalo plane crash of February 12, 2009.

Kassoff was a guest (May '07) on NPR with Marion McPartland's Piano Jazz celebrating his critically acclaimed solo/trio CD, SomewhereRuss also appears regularly on Lise Avery's Anything Goes Radio - as they can be heard exchanging many stories, fun and banter as well as promoting many of Russ's local gigs in the NY area.

Vocalist Catherine Dupuis has been the featured vocalist with the RKBB since its inception. Her style is soulful, innovative, and fresh and she is a consummate artist. With the RKBB she performs a repertoire of original RK arrangements that she and Russ have worked on as musical partners for several years. Dupuis' three CDs recorded for Bearheart Records have received rave reviews. About Rules of the Road (2005) arranged and conducted by Russ Kassoff, featuring the Russ Kassoff Trio, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ted Nash, Marvin Stamm and Joe CohnScott Yanow (All Music Guide) writes: "Although not overly famous, Catherine Dupuis shows on this CD that she is one of the most interesting jazz singers of the early 21st century. Her song selection is particularly strong, with a few standards performed in fresh ways and joined by vintage obscurities and newer material. "I've Never Been in Love Before" and "Lonesome Road" are reinvented. The Rules of the Road is highly recommended and a perfect introduction to the singing of Catherine Dupuis."  Catherine is also the chairman of the JazzPA board - an annual jazz festival she produces that this year will feature Russ, Jay Anderson, Dennis Mackrel and special guest - violinist virtuoso Sara Caswell.



A Cavalcade of Stars
The Russ Kassoff Big Band 
Midtown Jazz at Midday
30th Anniversary Gala
New York, NY
May 9, 2012

Ronny Whyte topped himself again with an amazing assemblage of talent in a venue famous for hosting stars from the world of jazz.  In fact, the weekly midday program has become one of St. Peter’s longest-running performing arts collaborations. Framed by the extraordinary sixteen-piece Russ Kassoff Big Band and singer Catherine Dupuis singing “In the Still of the Night,” some of the brightest names in the music business entertained a delighted audience of loyal fans who filled every seat.
With so many stellar performances, it’s difficult to select only a few to praise. That said, Dupuis deserves special recognition for a voice evoking the strength and substance of Judy Garland and her ability to project the feeling of a song over the band’s volume. Eric Comstock, as relaxed and charming as ever, imbued “Old Devil Moon” (Finian’s Rainbow) with an appropriately mysterious and tropical sensibility.  Ed Laub and Bucky Pizzarelli had the audience drifting along under a quiet, snow-lit sky (“Snowfall”), while Jay Leonhart’s wacky sense of humor on “The Dodgers” (“…the woman who I married saw the Dodgers play at Ebbet’s Field”) proved to be contagious, as always. Junior Mance performed a fast-paced piano sprint (“On Broadway”), and Chris Gillespie’s combo (“Take Five” and Bach variations) provided a veritable conversation, which ranged from jazz to classical. Marion Cowings, a rare crooner of the old school, has impeccable phrasing and a melodious voice, which embraced every line of “I Had the Craziest Dream.” Carol Fredette’s rendition of one of the best known songs from Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun, “They Say It’s Wonderful,” imparted an entirely new meaning to the iconic lyric, suggesting that the words “..falling in love is wonderful...” might lack a certain amount of credibility and consistency with her own experience.

Among the other veteran performers were: Art Baron; Mauricio DeSouza; Patti Dunham (“A Foggy Day”); Ed Laub and Bucky Pizzarelli; Alex Leonard (“Blues in the Night” and “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive”) both backed by Leonhart and DeSouza; Keith Loftis and Boots Maleson, working with Gillespie; Lenore Raphael (“If I Were a Bell”); Daryl Sherman (“Flamingo”); Marlene VerPlanck (“The Party Upstairs”); and Ronny Whyte (“The Hamptons Blues”).

The event was sponsored by the Midtown Arts Common and dedicated to the memory of Edmund Anderson, the creator of Midtown Jazz, Joan Uttal Anderson, the co-producer, and Barbara Lea, the late host of the long-running series.

Jerry Osterberg
Cabaret Scenes
May 9, 2012


Russ Kassoff Band
with Catherine Dupuis

Baha'i Center
New York, NY
September 13, 2011

Besides the usual suspects, low-profile, high-quality places in NYC serve up good music, booming and blooming. The Baha’i Center in Greenwich Village regularly hosts concerts in a cozy auditorium. With two sets in this close-up set-up, up stepped veteran conductor/pianist/ composer/recording artist Russ Kassoff. Tight ensemble players took turns soloing, duly credited, spotlighted and applauded; audiences can see the respectful, appreciative way they listened to each other. Down-to-earth bonhomie of our host/maestro made the atmosphere relaxed—with high-energy, brassy blasts and serene soaring. Frequent colleague, sparkling and so-smart singer Catherine Dupuis, was aboard. “I’ll be over here if you need me,” joked conductor Kassoff casually, moving just a few feet to allow her to take the stage. She warmed up “Indian Summer” with emotive, mature phrasing. In her comfort zone with “Too Close for Comfort,” close to the instrumentalists, they exchanged feisty, festive fits of joy. Catherine positively glowed with ebullience on “On the Street Where You Live,” clearly not the only one in the room to feel “several stories high.” It’s contagious.
Unflappingly alternating fluid piano-playing with in-command conducting thusly hands-off/hands-on, Kassoff likewise alternated between his originals (a moving “As Life Disappears”) and other choices, like “It Only Takes a Moment” (Hello, Dolly!) and “Oleo.” And among rock-solid players was that terrific trumpeter Glenn Drewes (“Drewes’ Blues” drew much applause). A standout for me was versatile, very attentive, super-sensational Kurt Bacher, young lion among graying heads. A hand for the band! Bring back Catherine Dupuis! Maestro, take a bow!

Rob Lester
Cabaret Scenes
September 13, 2011


The Russ Kassoff Big Band

Saint' Peter's Church
New York, NY
February 9, 2011

To paraphrase the Bernstein/Comden/Green song from On the Town, Russ Kassoff can really cook! He blew into town with a seventeen-piece band and rocked the place!  Kassoff, a pianist, conductor and composer, arranged every song, including “I Can Cook Too,” performed nicely by Catherine Dupuis, the band’s vocalist since 2003.

Ronny Whyte, a highly regarded singer, jazz pianist, award-winning songwriter, recording artist, actor and champion of other music artists, is the producer of the Midtown Jazz at Midday series and the host for Russ Kassoff’s Big Band. Whyte continues a tradition begun by the late Edmund Anderson in 1982.  Anderson, a long-time friend of Duke Ellington, wrote the lyrics to “Flamingo,” an early hit for both Ellington and Herb Jeffries. Kassoff’s well received appearance was a welcome addition to the canon of the popular program.

The opener was “The Preacher,” a Horace Silver composition recorded by Silver, Gerry Mulligan, Quincy Jones and Woody Herman, among many others. Exceptional solos were played by Dan Block (alto sax), Glenn Drewes (trumpet), Clint Sharman (trombone) and on the Dixieland passage, Kristy Norter (alto sax), Brian Pareschi (trumpet) and Charley Gordon (trombone).

One of the best numbers was “Joy,” written by the late Gerry Niewood, a co-founder of the band, with a strong solo turn by Dan Block on soprano sax. Of the two songs written by Kassoff, the more striking is “As Life Disappears,” inspired by the brevity of life and the sudden loss of friends. Kassoff has long experience touring with Sinatra, Bennett and Minnelli, and several Band members toured with Basie, Rich, Hampton and other big names.

Among other of the band’s seasoned musicians were Ken Hitchcock, Dave Noland, Ed Xiques, Nathan Mayland, Max Siegel, Jay Anderson, Ray Marchica, Shawn Edmonds and Bud Burridge. Every member of the group was first rate and Kassoff’s charts provided many solo opportunities to showcase their impressive skills.

Kassoff ‘s new CD is Bird Fly By. It’s an inspired collection of songs by Kassoff and Deirdre Broderick, his writing partner of many years, and standards by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn, Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz to name a few.  “As Life Disappears” has words by Broderick, although a vocal version has yet to be recorded. Those wanting to hear more of Catherine Dupuis’ fine voice should check out her own CDs.

Everyone who mourns the absence of the big bands should take heart that one of the very best of the current incarnations is Russ Kassoff’s Big Band.  Russ is at Feinstein’s on March 16 and the Knickerbocker in March and April.

Jerry Osterberg
Cabaret Scenes
February 9, 2011




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