280

Roger Kellaway: Live at the Jazz Standard

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Roger Kellaway: Live at the Jazz Standard Pianist and composer Roger Kellaway exists in that critical interface between little-known but respected session musician and known but unjustly little-recognized master. His recent recordings for IPO—Heroes (2007) and I Was There: Roger Kellaway Plays from the Bobby Darin Songbook (2005)—were very well received and revealed a professional, journeyman persistence. Kellaway is a national treasure who is omniscient in the field of jazz. Though not one to perform in public, Kellaway did play several nights at New York City's Jazz Standard which resulted in Roger Kellaway Live at the Jazz Standard.

Kellaway came to this recording with an agenda: the formation of a drummer-less band approximating Nat King Cole's piano, bass, guitar trios of the 1960s. Kellaway accomplishes this with guitarist Russell Malone and bassist Jay Leonhart, both veterans of the New York City jazz scene. Add vibraphonist Stefon Harris to the mix and the core trio becomes a facile swinging quartet. Cellist Borislav Strulev also shows up with a spotlight on the sole Kellaway composition of the set, the elegiac "All My Life." The overall sound is a sepia-toned 1950s and '60s period piece, right down to almost humid analogue sonics. Kellaway's repertoire reflects his aspirations for his band: heavy on Ellington and small combo bop.

The opening disc clocks no less than three Ellington compositions; sprite takes on "Cottontail" and "C Jam Blues," and a churchy "I'm Beginning to See The Light." Kellaway and Harris weave their respective melodies around one another, one starting a phrase with the other finishing. This is most provocative when applied to the song heads, particularly on Paul Desmond's "Take Five." With this jazz standard, there are certain expectations before hearing the arranged spin Kellaway has in store for it. Kellaway and Harris trade sections of the famous opening, leaving the piece slightly off-kilter, but in a pleasant, inventive way.

Kellaway retires his ballad jones with "Someday My Prince Will Come" and "The Nearness of You." Of bebop note is the searing "Doxy" that closes the first disc. The second disc opens with sheer genius. Kellaway arranges the 1930s Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers' "Tumbling Tumbleweeds." All of the band members have a healthy workout on this piece, Kellaway steering through country and western, roadhouse, and parlor music territories as Malone is particularly effective in his solo and accompanying guitar. The disc highlight is a lengthy treatment of Miles Davis' "Freddie Freeloader." Kellaway effectively draws a century of jazz piano through the modal prism of this abstract blues piece, offering the most compelling interpretation in recent memory. Much of the same can be said for the craggy Monk standard, "52nd Street Theme," which is presented in all of its bop glory.

Any Roger Kellaway release deserves a certain respect, but Roger Kellaway Live at the Jazz Standard is a cut above his best. It has a vintage sound with vintage music.


Track Listing: CD1: Cottontail; C Jam Blues; Someday My Prince Will Come; All My Life; I'm Beginning to See the Light; Take Five; The Nearness of You; Doxy. CD2: Tumbling Tumbleweeds; Cherry; You Don't Know What Love Is; Freddie Freeloader; 52nd Street Theme.

Personnel: Roger Kellaway: piano; Russell Malone: guitar; Stefon Harris: vibes; Jay Leonhart: bass; Borislav Strulev: cello.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: IPO Recordings | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Sektion 1-2" CD/LP/Track Review Sektion 1-2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "A Missing Shade of Blue" CD/LP/Track Review A Missing Shade of Blue
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Conversations About Not Eating Meat" CD/LP/Track Review Conversations About Not Eating Meat
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 13, 2016
Read "Kodama Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Kodama Trio
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 31, 2016
Read "As If By Magic" CD/LP/Track Review As If By Magic
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: December 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!