Home                                                          2011 / 2012 Concert Season

Saugerties Pro Musica

March 18th  - 3PM

Dennis Mackrel 

Jazz Percussionist

and friends

Program  Bios 


Music to be performed will be decided on the day of the concert. 

Dennis Mackrel was born, April 3, 1962. A child prodigy, he began playing the drums when he was two. He became a professional musician at the age of ten when he performed in the Anchorage Community Theater's production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum".

Developing his craft in various playing situations, Dennis received numerous awards such as "Who's Who in Music", 1979; National Endowment For The Arts Grant for Composition in 1983; and in 1992; "Outstanding Alumni" from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

While attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he was 18 years old and one of the youngest members of a Las Vegas showroom orchestra. His Las Vegas show performances include the Tropicana's "Follies Bergere" on drums, and the Imperial Palace's "Bravo Vegas" on drums and bass.

In 1981, at 19 years of age, Dennis moved to New York City and landed a gig as the drummer in a New York Broadway orchestra. His Broadway credits include "The First" and "A Chorus Line".

During January of 1983, Dennis joined The Count Basie Orchestra on the personal recommendation of Joe Williams and worked alongside Mr. Basie until his death in April, 1984. Dennis continued with the orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones."I think Dennis is one of the finest young drummers I've ever heard. He is extremely knowledgeable and he is also a very accomplished writer..." said Jones. Dennis stayed with the band, when Frank Foster took over as leader, until December of 1987.

Dennis is a seasoned musician and clinician, traveling extensively and performing with such ensembles as The Carla Bley Very Large Band, Slide Hampton and the Jazz Masters, The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni Band, The Manhattan Symphony Jazz Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Classic Jazz Orchestra, The Hank Jones Trio, The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, The Smithsonian Jazz Orchestra, and The American Jazz Orchestra. In February of 1990, Mel Lewis chose Dennis as his successor for the drum chair in The Mel Lewis/Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Dennis was also a featured soloist in the West Coast Premier of Charles Mingus' Epitaph".

Russ Kassoff – Piano  

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. His 2nd solo/trio release "BIRD FLY BY" began its radio flight on June 14, 2010 followed by a release concert in NYC at Steinway Hall on 9/13/10 . His first solo/trio CD "SOMEWHERE" was released in concert also at Steinway Hall on September 12, 2006 . Visit www.cdbaby.com/artist/russkassoff for sample audio.  

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 recently concluded a successful run as music director/conductor pianist for COME FLY AWAY, (www.comeflyaway.com) - Twyla Tharp's Broadway Show tribute to Frank Sinatra featuring 15 magnificent world class dancers and a spectacular 17-piece live big band performing to the recorded Sinatra tracks, plus live vocals by Hilary Gardner and Rosena M. Hill. Russ continues to be MD to Rita Moreno, The RKBB (Russ Kassoff Big Band), Catherine Dupuis (JazzPA's Summer Jazz Celebration, Sackets Harbor Jazz Festival and many varied club appearances), French chanteuse Yvonne Constant, and numerous eclectic others.  

In recent years, Russ appeared as conductor/pianist to Rita Moreno on PBS as the Mark Twain Prize was awarded to Bill Cosby. In the fall of 2009 Russ appeared at the Alliance theatre in Atlanta as pianist with a fantastic Dennis Mackrel - led 17 piece big band backing Twyla Tharp's critically acclaimed brand new "Come Fly With Me" dance concert performed live to the vocals of Frank Sinatra and Dee Daniels featuring 15 of the most magnificent and accomplished dancers that you will ever see. The development of this piece led to the recently concluded Broadway run retitled "Come Fly Away". Also in 2009 Russ focused on composing Suite For Gerry - for the RKBB in concert as a musical elegy, remembrance and tribute to Gerry Niewood, friend and founding member of Russ's big band as well as a permanent member of the musical family we all belong to. The Elegy movement - Part I concludes the new CD release - BIRD FLY BY (June 2010), soulfully and beautifully performed by Adam Niewood on soprano sax as part of the musical tribute we will forever bestow to Gerry.  

Russ continues to perform in solo, duo, trio and the RKBB jazz settings as well as varied shows in Cabaret throughout the NY Metropolitan Area with vastly different vocalists such as Yvonne Constant, Debbie Gravitte and Lisa Dawn Miller. 2009 brought Russ a MAC award nomination. On June 14, 2010 Russ returned for what has become an annual week as solo pianist in the Piano In The Park series at Bryant Park. In July 2010 Russ returned to the annual JazzPA festival ( Bellefonte , PA ) with his trio including Jay Leonhart on bass and Dennis Mackrel on drums. They backed Wycliffe Gordon - who's unlimited talents know no bounds. In July 2009 he also appeared at the JazzPA festival with his trio featuring David Finck and Dennis Mackrel backing legendary jazz saxophonist Jerry Dodgion as well as vocalist Catherine Dupuis. In 2008 a varied array of gigs had Russ performing - Rita Moreno at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco , Piano in the Park - Bryant Park, NYC, The Sackets Harbor Jazz Festival with Jerry Dodgion, and the JazzPA Festival with Tom "Bones" Malone and Byron Stripling. In 2007, Russ appeared as a featured guest on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz on NPR. Other live appearances in 2007 included conducting and accompanying Rita Moreno at the Napa Opera House, performing with Bucky Pizzarelli at Shanghai Jazz, Trio concert with Mark Murphy at the 8th Annual Sackets Harbor Jazz Festival (NY), Trio concert at the 3rd Annual State College (PA) Jazz Festival with Martin Wind - bass, Dennis Mackrel - drums, a duo piano concert with Bill Mays, also at the SCJF, a sensational 3 piano concert JAZZ IN JULY at Centenary College with Junior Mance and Jesse Green, The Russ Kassoff Big Band in concert at the Bahai Center in NYC, in concert with Tony Award winner Debbie Gravitte at Zankel Hall in NYC, The RK trio at The Kitano, conductor/music director for Rita Moreno with the Columbus Symphony, and a four week engagement at The Carlyle Hotel in NYC with Rita Moreno.

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.


Jay Anderson - Bass

Bassist/composer Jay Anderson is among the most versatile and respected jazz artists performing today. Born in 1955 in Southern California , Anderson began playing acoustic bass at the age of 12. Throughout junior high, high school, and college, Anderson won numerous awards for excellence in both jazz and classical music. One week after receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Performance from California State University at Long Beach , Anderson was asked to join the Woody Herman Orchestra. After touring with the “Herd” for a year, he was called by Carmen McRae and performed with the legendary singer for the next two years.

  In 1982 Anderson made the decision to move to New York City . Since moving East, he has continued to perform and record with some of the most important names in jazz. Anderson has been a regular member in the bands of Red Rodney & Ira Sullivan, Michael Brecker, Toots Thielemans, Bob Mintzer, Michael Franks, Eliane Elias, Bennie Wallace, Lew Tabackin, Steve Khan, Lynne Arriale, and was with Joe Sample from 1992 to 2006.

   Anderson takes pride in his versatility and openness to different types of music. He has been featured on over 300 recordings, including work with Paul Bley, Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, Vic Juris, Mike Stern, Seamus Blake, Oz Noy, Adam Nussbaum, Donald Byrd, Terumasa Hino, Joe Lovano, Mark Soskin, Lee Konitz, Warren Bernhardt, Dalia Faitelson, Frank Kimbrough, Dave Stryker, Steve Slagle, Garry Dial, Dick Oatts, Andy LaVerne, Frank Wess, Walt Weiskopf, Phil Markowitz, Joe Locke, Joey Calderazzo, Bob Sheppard, Tiger Okoshi, George Cables, Jay Clayton, Rich Perry, David Witham, Charles Blenzig, Jeremy Monteiro, Yosuke Yamashita, Mark Isaacs, and many others. He has performed with the big bands of Kenny Wheeler, Bob Mintzer, Bob Belden, Mel Lewis, Toshiko Akiyoshi, George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, WDR Köln ( Germany ), and the critically acclaimed Maria Schneider Orchestra whose 2004 release “Concert In The Garden” won the Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. He also performed on Maria's 2007 release "Sky Blue" that won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition, "Cerulean Skies".

   Anderson has also done numerous jingles and non-jazz recordings with Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Chaka Khan, Michel Legrand, legendary poet Allen Ginsberg, and the Grammy Award winning 1997 Record of the Year “Falling Into You” by Celine Dion.

  In addition to being a highly sought-after sideman, Anderson is a proven voice in his own right. His two original recordings on the DMP label, “NEXT EXIT” and “LOCAL COLOR” have received critical acclaim both in the U.S. and abroad.

   Anderson has been the recipient of the NEA grant for composition and two Meet the Composer grants. Twelve of the recordings he has been featured on have been nominated for the Grammy Award. He has conducted clinics around the world and is a Professor of Jazz Bass Studies at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City .


All concerts are on Sunday at 3 PM

at the Saugerties United Methodist Church

on the corner of Washington Avenue & Post Street

Admission $12 - Seniors $10 - Students Free

BOOK of FIVE Tickets $40.00 

Saugerties Pro Musica is a section 501 (c) (3) organization

Saugerties Pro Musica
PO Box 276
Saugerties NY 12477

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