About Musical Director Russ Kassoff …
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. Russ is one of the most highly regarded musicians in New York and was praised by the New York Times in 2004 as possessing a “precision and enthusiasm that is riveting.”
In the words of the Chairman of the Board, “You are the best.” -Frank Sinatra, ’87.
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/accompanist 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 for Charles Aznavour in concert.
Russ continues to be musical director to Rita Moreno.
His eclectic and varied recording career includes albums with Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli, Red Norvo, Chris Connor, Sylvia Syms, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon and Mimi Hines. 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, Vic Damone, Debbie Gravitte, Buddy Greco, Gregory Hines, Mimi Hines, Carol Lawrence, Ute Lemper, Barry Manilow, Amanda McBroom, Susannah McCorkle, Maureen McGovern, Vincent Minnelli, Faith Prince, Ginger Rogers, Annie Ross, Carly Simon, Carol Sloane, Sylvia Syms, and Luciano Pavarotti (duet with Liza for Pavarotti & Friends in 1996).
On Broadway, Russ served as musical director/pianist for Charles Aznavour at the Marquis Theater in 1998 and as pianist/arranger/contractor to Minnelli on Minnelli at the Palace Theater in 1999-2000. Russ has also played hundreds of shows on Broadway, including Miss Saigon, Cats, Will Rogers Follies, Buttons On Broadway, Jane Eyre, The Life, Seussical, Victor Victoria, Sunset Boulevard, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Kiss Me Kate. Russ recently was music director/conductor pianist for COME FLY AWAY, Twyla Tharp’s Broadway Show tribute to Frank Sinatra featuring 15 world class dancers and a spectacular 17-piece live big band.
Russ’s arrangements and orchestrations have appeared in many different settings. From full orchestra for Rita Moreno, Liza Minnelli, Debbie Gravitte, and Charles Aznavour to intimate groups for Rita Moreno, Sylvia Syms, Mimi Hines, Chris Connor and Bucky Pizzarelli.
Russ has performed as a member of many jazz groups, most notably with the Bucky Pizzarelli Trio at the Cafe Pierre and New York’s Plaza Hotel, and their continued musical relationship finds them performing together at various jazz clubs, concerts, and jazz festivals.
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. A time gone by…