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Roger Kellaway: Heroes

Larry Taylor By

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When pianist Roger Kellaway first thought about becoming a jazz musician in the '50s, keyboard legend Oscar Peterson was hitting his stride with his great trios. They included Ray Brown on bass, and first Barney Kessel, then Herb Ellis on guitar. Peterson's trios were a big influence on Kellaway. As he states in the liner notes, "...that sound they made together. It certainly would have defeated me when I was young because it was so brilliant.... the will to swing that I picked up from him.

This CD, Kellaway's tribute to Peterson, is, in fact, the first time he has recorded in the trio format. Helping immensely here are guitarist Bruce Forman and bassist Dan Lutz. The tunes were all recorded by Peterson. The album is characterized by the group's straight-ahead, hard-driving swing. The ten cuts perfectly capture Peterson's "will to swing, while leaving room for these musicians' expressive talents to come through.

The album also honors other great trios—Nat Cole and Art Tatum's, specifically. To illustrate, "Moten Swing shows Kellaway getting into a Tatum-like stride groove. On the lightly rhythmic "I'm Smiling Again (a Kellaway original), listen to the way Lutz's bouncy bass line is prominent throughout, with Forman's guitar and Kellaway's piano cohesively joining in. The following "Midnight Sun gives Forman's haunting guitar work a chance to shine.

On "52nd Street Theme, it's like listening to Peterson himself, with Kellaway playing a mile a minute, and again Foreman stands out in the background—another great example of trio interaction. Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom is a great way to end the recording. Kellaway takes this stately gospel-like anthem, building relentlessly until he breaks into a bluesy riff and finally settles into a quietly serene ending.

Track Listing: Killer Joe; Cotton Tail; I Was Doing All Right; Nuages; Night Train; I'm Smiling Again; Midnight Sun; Moton Swing; 52nd Street Theme; Hymn to Freedom.

Personnel: Roger Kellaway: piano; Bruce Forman: guitar; Dan Lutz: bass.

Title: Heroes | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: IPO Recordings

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