Ross Konikoff, Trumpet


  After two and a half fantastic years with Buddy Rich I came home just in time to start a new Broadway show called The Act, starring Liza Minnelli. When the eight month run ended Liza asked twelve of us from the orchestra if we would travel with her. For the next seven years I toured the world with Liza. There were long breaks during the eight years when Liza took time off to make movies or to rest, enabling me to do three other short runs on Broadway during my tenure.

In 1980 a new production of 42nd Street opened, and although I was not a regular, I was very busy subbing there for eight months. The trumpet section  was Dick Perry, Bernie Glow, Joe Wilder, and Tony Faso. The experience of playing in a section with that level of musicianship was something most musicians can only dream of. Listen to Dick Perry playing lead trumpet on the Broadway soundtrack from Gypsy. That's the same energy he brought to the lead book eight times a week on Broadway.

  In 1981 I replaced Jimmy Maxwell at Sugar Babies for another eight months. Finally in 1982 I got THE call to start a new show coming over from England called Cats. This would be a good long run I was assured. At least a year.

We opened in October of 1982 and although I stayed with Liza for the next two years, I was missing so many shows at Cats, they told me to make a choice, so I left the Liza tour in 1984. Over the next 12 years I survived the finale of one connubial holocaust and was reborn two years later by the marriage I was meant for all along. In 1988 I played a short summer tour with Frank Sinatra. Swinging! Back at Cats I was playing second trumpet to another trumpet legend, Victor Paz. In addition to what I learned just playing next to him every night, he brought me into the Mario Bauza Afro Cuban Orchestra where we played together for most of the 90s. In 1996 Liza called and asked if I was ready to join her again, and by that time nobody at Cats paid attention to how much taking off we were doing so I accepted and have been with her ever since.

Cats finally did close in September 2000. I was tired of playing and wanted to see if I was capable of doing something productive, so I enrolled at the NY Institute of Technology and earned my Microsoft Systems Engineering certification. Soon I  got a job at Global Crossing as a circuit design engineer. I stayed for one year, then moved over to Time Warner Publishing in a Sales and Marketing position. I was there for almost a year doing cooperative advertising contracts with the largest booksellers in the world when the phone in my cubicle rang one afternoon. It was Liza asking me to come back and help her start fresh, new band, new music, and a new show. I immediately resigned from Time Warner. My first concert with her involved me conducting the New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall while Skitch Henderson stood three feet away, growling at me. He wanted to conduct for Liza but Liza wanted me. On top of everything else, Liza insisted I play the trumpet solo from the podium on But The World Goes 'Round. By the time I handed the baton back to Skitch, steam was rising from the top of his head.
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