Russ Kassoff

Catherine Dupuis
The Rules of the Road



July 2006
By Suzanne Lorge

Catherine Dupuis' latest album, The Rules Of The Road, displays a vibrant collaboration between Dupuis and pianist/arranger/composer Russ Kassoff. The title cut refers to the Cy Coleman tune recorded by the late Rosemary Clooney (henceforth spoken of in the first person for her lingering influence on the so-called "girl singers"). Dupuis and Clooney do different things vocally, but they share some traits as vocalists. First, both exude warmth and happiness live and in recording; such natural bonhomie cannot be taught. (Although Dupuis did receive serious training in the studio of opera star Eileen Farrell at Indiana University and holds an M.F.A. in Acting and Movement from Penn State.) Second, both use full-horned arrangements to maximum advantage. Kassoff's arrangements on this release recall the easy, spirited feel of the jazz orchestras preferred by Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Clooney - even if the tune in question is a number like "Beginnings" by the '70s rock group Chicago or one of Kassoff's three originals on this CD. To complete her own jazz orchestra Dupuis brought an all-star lineup into the studio: Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar), Ted Nash (alto sax), Martin Wind (bass) and Marvin Stamm (trumpet/flugelhorn), to name a few. Dupuis' sure-footedness with a melody and a scat solo offer a splendid complement to Kassoff's seamless arrangements. If Dupuis and Kassoff collaborate well in digital format, it is no less so live. The two appeared at Enzo's Jazz at the Jolly Madison's Whaler Bar June 7th in a tribute performance to Cole Porter, whose birthday was June 9th. (One can imagine that Porter - along with Sinatra, Garland and Clooney - enjoyed the show in absentia.) Dupuis is no stranger to Porter's melodies; she boasts strong credits in musical theater and has recorded several Porter tunes on previous albums. Still, a whole evening of Porter tunes might prove a daunting task in the execution. Dupuis and Kassoff met the challenge with a series of inventive numbers: a humorous rendition of "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" from Kiss Me Kate: "Do I Love You" as a rumba; and a bold, percussive rendering of "So In Love", with Martin Wind bowing a bass solo, for example. Dupuis' trio, which also included drummer Tim Horner, rounded out the program with instrumentals like the burner "Too Darn Hot", effected with decisive, effortless playing by Kassoff and company.


October 2005
By Jim Santella

The Rules of the Road features Catherine Dupuis with big band and strings as she interprets a program of songs not found on every street corner and not returned every time we turn around to listen. She eschews the Great American Songbook repertoire, but maintains a down to earth feeling that pervades. The Chicago tune "Beginnings" carries with it an uplifting quality that moves her significantly forward. With this selection and with most of her program, the singer blends with her ensemble, interpreting lyrics with compassion and offering lucid scat choruses that are filled with excitement. The rhythm that exudes from their fiery combination turns contagious. Bucky Pizzarelli's rhythm guitar solo, Marvin Stamm's tender flugelhorn melody, and Ted Nash's burning alto saxophone thread give the piece an authentic flair. Dupuis interprets each selection with authority, scatting wordless vocals as a member of the orchestra and bubbling with enthusiasm. You can hear her smiling through Sammy Cahn's "Wonder Why," as the big band takes her on a joyful ride through swingland. Tender ballads fall into place with warm underpinnings, as she moves casually through lush landscapes. Several of Russ Kassoff's original compositions give Dupuis plenty of room to emote comfortably. Lionel Bart's "Who Will Buy" takes on a spiritual quality that surpasses what we experienced in the musical production. She's restructured the tune into a powerful meeting of modern jazz with Broadway. The album comes recommended for its energy, drive and for the singer's unique musical character. As she sings alongside Emedin Rivera's congas, a sparkling piano, and full band, "The Best is Yet to Come." Jim Santella, Cadence


June 2005 - V5N4 P 211
By Bill Donaldson

The notable element of Catherine Dupuis' new CD, The Rules of the Road, now that listeners have become familiar with her ability to immerse herself completely in her music, is the involvement of the producer/arranger/orchestrator Russ Kassoff. On I Hear Music and Moments, her first two CD's, Dupuis earned well-deserved praise for her ability to illuminate the meaning of lyrics with insight and originality. In addition, her experience in musical theater means that often she presents songs that traditional jazz singers may overlook, inserting a startling sense of delight at the close attention paid to songs not often heard. But Dupuis' work on The Rules of the Road is noticeably a collaborative effort, and Kassoff's ideas and guidance appear to enhance those of Dupuis' on every track. Perhaps Dupuis had her own notions about how to treat each of the songs, but Kassoff is the one who fulfills their vision as his arrangements consist of piano trio, a horn-led septet or the addition of violins for intended effect driven by the sentiment of the music.

Like many other singers, Dupuis fancies her voice as a horn. That becomes apparent even on the title track, which introduces the album, when, after singing the first chorus, Dupuis sings wordlessly in unison with the horns, much as Judi Silvano and other singers frequently are wont to do. In addition, Dupuis, like singers who derive almost as much pleasure from listening to musicians as they do from vocalizing, is content throughout The Rules of the Road to relax and allow the wealth of talent accompanying her to break out into astounding solos of their own. Notably, this is true from Chicago's song, "Beginnings" (which oddly enough, liner notes writer Mark Murphy hadn't heard before). Dupuis and Kassoff interpret "Beginnings" as a finger-snapper delivered from a new perspective, or at least until the "only the beginning" sections, where it picks up speed for successive instrumental interpretations over the vamp. When Dupuis sings with strings on songs like "I Have Dreamed" or "I've Never Been in Love Before," the results seem to be a singer's dream, the vibrancy of the strings deepening the emotional content of the lyrics and calling attention to the beauty of Dupuis' alto voice, resonant with a slight vibrato and an ever-present sense of unerring timing.

Dupuis responds to the prodding and harmonies of the horns on "The Best Is Yet to Come" with a highly energetic interpretation, as if she were responding to the band's challenge and continuing to raise the bar throughout the song. And sure enough, the best is yet to come when Dupuis combines her knowledge of musical theater with the irrepressibility of jazz on Lionel Bart's "Who Will Buy" from Oliver!, converting the song's three-note sales pitch into a thrilling chant reminiscent of some of Sheila Jordan's work, particularly on Jazz Child. That chant then kicks off a successful adaptation of seller's song, sung as a round in the play, to jazz vocabulary as Kassoff on piano suggests the changes of Miles Davis' All Blues and as Dupuis elevates the song into a 6/8 rhapsody.

With the release of Rules of the Road, Catherine Dupuis finds success from the combination of her jazz sensibility and love of Broadway musicals as she, with the estimable assistance of Kassoff, uncovers some of the delights within lesser-known great American songs, as well as three Kassoff original compositions.


by Scott Yanow
4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
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 voice is appealing and she is not shy to take chances yet she also knows how to really get inside a lyric. Some of her interpretations are as close to high-quality cabaret as to jazz and most of her scatting is worked out beforehand, but she improvises with subtlety, taste, and swing. Her song selection is particularly strong, with a few standards performed in fresh ways and joined by vintage obscurities and newer material including three songs by the team of pianist Russ Kassoff and Deidre Broderick. Kassoff's arrangements of such tunes as "I Have Dreamed," "Someone at Last" (from A Star Is Born), "Wonder Why," and "Who Will Buy" make those songs sound brand new, and even "I've Never Been in Love Before" and "Lonesome Road" are reinvented. In addition to the rhythm section, there are quite a few instrumental guests who appear on a few numbers apiece and have short statements, including guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, trumpeter Marvin Stamm, altoist Ted Nash, and the reeds of Lawrence Feldman. There is not a throwaway performance among the 13 selections, and the program never loses one's interest. The Rules of the Road is highly recommended and a perfect introduction to the singing of Catherine Dupuis.

Cabaret Scenes
JULY 2005
By: Jeff Rossen
CD Review - The Rules of the Road
(Bearheart Records)

On The Rules of the Road, Catherine Dupuis takes her listening audience on a splendid journey along life's route, particularly that road's path to love, and the route that she's chosen is one with one surprising turn after another. Dupuis never allows the listener to become too comfortable, because she'll just as easily kick it into high gear after a smooth straightaway, and that's one of this album's great strengths. One of them. There's also Dupuis' naturalness in performance and the inviting timbre of her voice. Take those two qualities and seat them inside orchestrator-conductor-pianist Russ Kassoff's effective and diverse arrangements, and, well, fasten your seatbelts, because the trip down this "Road" is one heck of a ride.

You can tell when an artist is equally enamored of a lyric line as much as the melody on which it floats, and Dupuis creates an immediacy within each of her 13 selections on The Rules of the Road, whether it be the breezy warmth of the seldom heard Cy Coleman-Carolyn Leigh title track, the unexpected side road taken on her infectiously joyful Beginnings (Chicago-meets-jazz-meets-cabaret; whoda thunk it?), the oasis of reverie she creates in her totally reimagining of A Star Is Born's Someone At Last, the totally wonderfully unexpected detour she takes in a bossa nova flavored I've Never Been in Love Before. A trio of originals by Kassoff and Dierdre Broderick let Dupuis relax and reflect on life, love and the possibilities each offers in the impressive I Remember, When He's Near My Piano and, especially, You Are All the World to Me. But if there's one leg of this journey that had this rider most delighted in having been invited along, it's found in the ethereally intoxicating and simple
beauty of I Have Dreamed. Talk about your joyrides.

Review 5/26/05
by Rob Lester

Bearheart Records
She's thinking all the time. That's what you sense when you listen to Catherine Dupuis going through a lyric moment by moment. She's truly in each moment, thinking it through and communicating it to the listener. Maybe it's because she has a degree in theatre and worked as an actress. It shows. She's also studied music with some of the best, and the lady is in command. With a pleasing sound that can be creamy, belty or wistful, Catherine is a pleasure to hear. The title song and "The Best is Yet To Come" (I bet that is true in her case) are both Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh sparklers that bring out her playful, effervescent side. Broadway ballads "Who Will Buy" (Oliver!), "I Have Dreamed" (The King And I) and "I've Never Been In Love Before" (Guys And Dolls) get warm, tender treatment and a genuine sense of longing with an equal measure of optimism. "Someone At Last," the Harold Arlen/ Ira Gershwin item from the film A Star is Born gets a new flavor and is all the better for it.

The other very good news is that she surrounds herself with musicians of the highest rank. Russ Kassoff is arranger, orchestrator, conductor and pianist as well as co-producer with Catherine. His settings are inventive and exciting, very rewarding to pay attention to on repeated listenings for the many ideas big and small, figures and accents that are assets to the story of the song. He also wrote two of the songs with lyricist Deirdre Broderick. "When He's Near My Piano" is an unusual ballad that's been growing on me. The other is "You're All the World To Me," also just recorded by the bright new talent, Jasper Kump, with whom he's performing in New York. The brass here is especially strong: Bruce Bonvissuto playing trombone and Marvin Stamm on trumpet and flugelhorn. Four tracks have the extra added attractive attraction of guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli and on two others Joe Cohn is guitarist. Catherine and Russ are well matched, and his piano playing throughout adds immeasurably to the full effect.

Catherine can be moody and meditative or bubbly, but she's more than anything else an interpretive singer with jazz sensibilities and a great sense of swing. I suspect she's as much in love with the music as she is with the lyrics. While listening (and seeing her in person recently) it occurred to me that she reminds me of three stars of the past, all coincidentally named Betty. There are traces of the ebullience of Betty Hutton, the old-fashioned femininity of Betty Grable, and a touch of the sauciness of Betty Boop. I sense there are a couple of out-and-out comedy songs in her that want to come out and a few big, dramatic torch songs as well. Still growing, still experimenting, still thinking. Always thinking. That's good. There are 13 lucky songs on this CD by Miss C.D., all pleasures for the ear. It's her third album.

By:Paula Edelstein
THE RULES OF THE ROAD are clearly designated by Catherine Dupuis on her latest recording that features such jazz luminaries as Russ Kassoff, Ted Nash, Bucky Pizzarelli, Lawrence Feldman and several others. The rarely performed title track written by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, opens the program and the vocalist makes it her own with the accompaniment of Kassoff’s laid-back swing arrangement. A gentle bossa nova version of “I Have Dreamed” gives Dupuis her chance at romance with gorgeous strings and guitar comping. Other songs from the vaults of Broadway show tunes include “Someone At Last,” from A Star Is Born and “Beginnings” from Chicago. Both are sung with skill and impassioned with Dupuis’ straightforward vocal delivery. Overall, there is something very nostalgic about THE RULES OF THE ROAD but then; Catherine Dupuis lets you be the judge. For more information about Catherine Dupuis and upcoming concert dates, visit her at Obey THE RULES OF THE ROAD now and buy this CD.


Cabaret Scenes

May 19, 2005
By:Elizabeth Ahlfors
Iridium Jazz Club
Catherine Dupuis is a warm alto singer who smoothly infuses the standards in cabaret with the rhythms of jazz. At the Iridium jazz club, she celebrated her latest CD, "The Rules of the Road", backed by seven top-flight musicians led by Russ Kassoff on piano. Opening with Cy Coleman's "The Best is Yet to Come," Dupuis swung with a potent tone, presenting the spirit of the song with enthusiasm and the lyrics with sincerity.

The band set a swaying bossa nova beat under Frank Loesser's "I've Never Been in Love Before," including Dupuis's vocalese segment, drawing out the sinuous bossa beat. One of Harold Arlen's less familiar tunes, "Someone At Last," was a lovely choice of a ballad, performed with simple sweetness; she picked up the tempo at the end, yet she never let go of the tenderness. "Wonder Why" (Cahn/Brodszky) featured Dupuis' precise phrasing before she took off with a hearty scat.

Music director Russ Kassoff and jazz/cabaret performer Deirdre Broderick wrote a poetic memory, "When He's Near My Piano." Lionel Bart's "Who Will Buy?" from Oliver emerged out of American Indian cries and then lightly swung into an energizing drive. Dupuis delivered the Shilkret and Austin standard, Lonesome Road, with thoughtfulness before the band kicked into vigor, including a snappy stride piano by Kassoff.

Catherine Dupuis brings a savvy breeziness to the cabaret/jazz genre of song.


KETR Public Radio
Commerce, Texas
By Bruce Tater

Rules was really a surprise disc for me as I just figured it would be another nice but not remarkable vocal outing. But it just absolutely floored me. The conception and arrangements were startling and made the whole audio experience one of unusual musicality. I've locked into "Who Will Buy" and "Lonesome Road" - whoever dreamed up the Bart tune in that configuration with the traditional chant was brilliant and, of course, Catherine put it all together with her talent and accommodating voice. Rules will be a constant part of my jazz shows weekly and for some time to come. What a wonderful and welcome jazz serving!



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