Coinciding with the release of Beyond the Sea, a film biography of singer Bobby Darin, I Was There features songs that the pianist and singer performed together when Kellaway was Bobby Darin's musical director in 1967-68.
Kellaway, who worked extensively with actor Kevin Spacey to prepare him for his role as Darin in the film, recreates the buoyant spirit that the singer espoused throughout his stellar, if brief career.
The album's song selection excludes the obvious. "Mack the Knife," with all its finger-popping hipness, gave the public a one-sided view of the artist and neglected the depth of his singing pursuits. Kellaway, on the other hand, has always been an eclectic composer and a deep interpreter at the piano. Like Darin, however, he's been remembered for a few memorable composing achievements, such as his theme from "All in the Family," his score for A Star is Born, and other integral pieces that proved strong for the television and motion picture industry. The depth of passion that he exhibits at the piano by far surpasses his composing feats. As an interpreter of music at the piano, Kellaway gives his audience depth and expressive emotion.
His style is flowing without being ornamental. He dashes across the keyboard, creating volumes of intense feelings. Yet there's never a moment where you feel overwhelmed. The pianist maintains a subdued posture throughout.
Dreamy ballads such as "When Your Lover has Gone," "My Buddy," and "My Funny Valentine" sweep passionately through landscapes that are fit for dwelling on stories. The songs themselves tell a tale, and Kellaway makes sure that we receive a thorough understanding. Through his emotional scouring, the pianist has dredged up a vocalist's feeling for the songs.
His treatment of "Charade" goes beyond the usual. He introduces the piece with a bit of mystery, and then smoothes out the edges. In the process of interpreting this classic song, the pianist casts a giant shadow of dramatic proportions. It runs deep and complex, giving us an appearance that's much stronger than its revered melody.
"Just in Time" bounces lightly, as if Bobby Darin were singing it. Kellaway's "I Was There" and "All By Myself" shine with a bright spirit, emitting a positive glow. Most of the album, however, remains justly satisfied with passionate ballads that tell the story of a singer who rocked the world with Top Forty hits and then, sadly, passed away at age 37 during open-heart surgery.