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Roger Kellaway: Live At Mezzrow

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Roger Kellaway: Live At Mezzrow
Roger Kellaway's latest offering Live At Mezzrow is a masterclass in jazz artistry. With Kellaway on piano—leading his trio of first class musicians, including bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Dennis Mackrel along with guest guitarist Roni Ben-Hur on a couple of tracks—they embark on a celebration of mostly historical jazz standards from the songbooks of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Billy Strayhorn among others, as well as one of Kellaway's own pieces "All My Life." For those of a certain age with long memories, Kellaway's compositional efforts embraced other media as he wrote the ending theme "Remembering You" for the ground-breaking TV series "All In The Family," which aired on CBS for nine seasons starting in January 1971.

The set opens with a popular Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt tune, "Try To Remember," from the 1960 musical comedy "The Fantastics." In this solo exposition, Kellaway elaborates on what the piece's structure has to say as he covers the keyboard, always keeping the melody in mind. Miles Davis masterpiece recording from 1959 Kind Of Blue (Columbia Records) is given special acknowledgement with Kellaway diving into three timeless classics: "All Blues," "Blue in Green," and "So What." The modal structures, as conceived by Davis, are intact, and Kellaway's interpretations are both respectful of the originals and infused with his unique flair. His fingers prance effortlessly across the keys using the tonal modes, ascending and descending chords and scale fragments to develop the sonic bath the compositions take.

Two pieces by Ettore Stratta, "Pages of Life" and "Good Morning Bahia," were arranged by Kellaway to take advantage of the guitar talents of his special guest Roni Ben- Hur. On the former number, Mackrel lays down a repetitive drumming figure over which Kellaway develops his ideas organically to convey a sense of motion filled with his characteristic pianistic embellishments. The latter composition has a sensuous samba beat which is enhanced by the timbre and texture of Ben-Hur's guitar as he adds another dimension to the trio's sound. The layers of nuance derived from the rhythmic imagery offer a vibrancy that inhabits the piece. Kellaway's compositional skills are showcased in "All My Life," which unfolds gracefully and elegantly with each note carefully chosen. The result is an intricately beautiful tapestry of sound.

The closing track is the Billy Strayhorn composition, "Take The "A" Train," which became one of the signature tunes for The Duke Ellington Orchestra. However, rather than starting as "the quickest way to get to Harlem," Kellaway and his cohorts chose to lope along in an easy stride like a journey unto itself. The pace eventually picks up, building the peak intensity with a blanket of notes elaborating on the tune's infectious energy before strolling home. Throughout the session, the musicianship on display is quite extraordinary.

Track Listing

Try To Remember; All Blues; Blue In Green; Pages Of Life; Good Morning Bahia; So What; All My Life; Straight No Chaser; Take The "A" Train.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Live At Mezzrow | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Cellar Music Group


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