This is a wonderfully sympathetic duo. Pianist Roger Kellaway has an identity which brings together Ellis Larkins, Bill Evans and deep knowledge of jazz piano, whilst Eddie Daniels may be the most formidably correct clarinetist in jazz today, without ever letting technique get in the way of expression.
Add to this duo's many attributes the fact that they play without a safety net and you have something specialso much so that Kellaway and Daniels even make something out of the old George Gershwin warhorse "Strike up the Band," which combines impressionistic qualities with sly, insidious wit. Of the two, it's Kellaway to whom this quality comes most readily, although the duo's level of mutual knowledge ensures that when Daniels drops into proceedings, the pianist makes a point of completing the clarinetist's phrase.
Stephen Sondheim's 'Somewhere' is a song that's easy to get wrong, but these guys don't. Their reading combines faintly rhapsodic qualities with uncommon poignancy. It's also one of those occasions when Kellaway proves himself an undervalued solo pianist, before Daniels comes back in to take it home with his exquisite tone.
Given the bulk of the program, Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning" sticks out a littleor it would, if the artistry on offer wasn't equal to virtually anything . In his solo work, Daniels brings a radically different personality to that of Steve Lacy's soprano saxophone, demonstrating that the secret to reading Monk lies in striking a balance between the composer's vision and a musician's own individuality.
Kellaway's "A Place that You Want to Call Home" is poignancy writ large, and thus tailor-made for Daniels's pure tone. It closes out a program in which a range of material is encompassed by a duo for whom empathy is second nature and understanding comes naturally.
Strike Up the Band; Capriccio Twilight; Somewhere; Rhythm-a-ning; America The Beautiful; Etude of a Woman / Pretty Women; Just Friends; A Place that You want to Call Home; 50 State Rambler.
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