Russ Kassoff Jazz Trio at Steinway Hall
CD Release Event: Somewhere
Russ Kassoff on Steinway Piano
Martin Wind on Bass
Tim Horner on Drums
(Steinway Hall Website)
Betsy Hirsch, Sales and Press
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 12, 2006
(See a Review of Russ Kassoff’s new CD, Somewhere.)
In the plush elegance of New York’s renowned Steinway Hall, amidst ornate paintings of famous composers and pianists, marble columns, tapestries, silk draperies, a giant chandelier, ceiling murals, and the quintessential Steinways, tonight’s audience was treated to a rare event, Jazz at Steinway Hall. Russ Kassoff, whose biography notes that he was Frank Sinatra’s pianist for many years, is a genial and conversational host, warming up his fans, many of whom are in the New York jazz community, such as Manfred and Birgit Knoop of TWINZ Records and Knoop Studio, Gwen Calvier of Hot House Jazz Magazine, and Bill Mays and Junior Mance, both jazz pianists. The ambiance was quintessentially high quality.
Russ began the concert with a melancholy introduction to Look for a Silver Lining, building to a Swing, as s solo bass added richness against soft drums. I noticed immediately the incredibly clear and lovely acoustics at Steinway Hall, as every note on Russ’ grand piano could be heard. Somewhere, from Bernstein and Sondheim’s West Side Story, added Tim Horner’s clavé drums for Latin effect, along with Martin Wind’s smooth bass bow. The Best Thing For You, by Irving Berlin, included generous percussive rolls and piano improvisation.
Kassoff’s composition (co-written with Deirdre Broderick), You Are All the World To Me, was well blended with a mesmerizing, meandering melody, each note clear as a bell. Another Kassoff/Broderick collaboration, I Remember, was played on solo Steinway, like à cappella singing. Samba du Sackets, an original Kassoff piece, is a tribute to an Upstate New York Jazz Festival. A fused Samba-Jazz theme was upbeat, breezy, and syncopated. Martin Wind’s bow added steady staccato, and Tim Horner enhanced the sound with exotic percussion. Russ Kassoff took a driven detour with interest and intensity.
I Love You Madly, a solo Swing, showed off the resonance and richness of Kassoff’s Steinway, as it ended with an Ellington A Train clip. Gershwin’s Lady Be Good raced with excitement, rapid fingering included. The bass danced with rambunctious rhythm, as Kassoff zoomed up and down scales for some hot Savoy Swing. In contrast, the finale, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, began in soft solitude, a reference to the folly of war. The piece became more aggressive and atonal, before its lasting whisper of an ending.
Russ Kassoff and Guests, Junior Mance and Bill Mays
Martin Wind, Russ Kassoff, Tim Horner
Painting of Schubert, Composing The Earl King
Chandelier and Murals on the Dome Ceiling of Steinway Hall