Roger Kellaway: I Was There; Remembering Bobby Darin

Ernest Barteldes By

Sign in to view read count
For a number of years, pianist Roger Kellaway performed alongside Bobby Darin, and on two recent releases he pays tribute to the late frontman by playing instrumental renditions of some of the songs (plus a couple of originals) he played and/or arranged during his years with the singer, who passed away too soon in 1973 at the age of 37.

Roger Kellaway
I Was There
IPO Recordings

On I Was There, Kellaway plays solo, going through staples such as "Beyond The Sea and "Just In Time masterfully but without losing touch with the simplicity of each song. A track that is especially interesting to the ear is Hart/Rodgers' "My Funny Valentine, a song that is often covered—but sometimes horribly butchered—by many a vocalist. Here he gives it a subtle treatment, giving some classical touches in between the song's original notes. The opening notes of the title track (the only original tune in the record) reminds one of "Nice Work If You Can Get It but then changes into a cheerful, Brubeck-like feel, ending with a bluesy touch.

On "I'm Beginning to See The Light, Kellaway uses the song's original chorus as a space to improvise freely, making the song almost unrecognizable at times. The album closes with "Something In Your Smile, a song from Darin's Dr. Doolitle album, in which Kellaway takes the microphone and delivers a subtle but heartfelt vocal, which (according to the liner notes) was recorded in one take.

The Roger Kellaway Trio
Remembering Bobby Darin
IPO Recordings

On Remembering Bobby Darin, the pianist is joined by guitarist Bruce Forman and bassist Dan Lutz in what is intended as a "companion piece to the solo album. Once again, there is only one original song, the beautiful bluesy "Remember, which is almost a solo song, the other two players appearing only during a few moments. One of the tunes that immediately stands out is the respectful take on the Jobim/Mendonca tune "Meditation. A lot of contemporary musicians have given rather "personal" treatments to songs of the bossa nova era, so it is very welcome to hear this song with all the Brazilian nuances, even if Bruce Forman retains a more Americanized touch to his guitar playing. It is impressive how well Kellaway's piano here sounds as if he were channeling Jobim's style, hitting the keys more softly than in the other songs.

A fun moment is the only Darin composition in the CD, the teen-rock era "Splish Splash, which receives a playful treatment during the chorus that quickly brings to mind Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy, retaining a more improvisational jazz mode during the middle sections.

The trio revisits "Beyond The Sea with a straight approach, piano and bass trading leads on the original notes of the song. Kellaway then takes over showing his chops as Forman and Lutz provide a simple but effective background.

"Mack The Knife begins in a funny way: you hear the scratches of a vinyl record and then Forman provides rhythm guitar as Kellaway plays on a toy piano. That ends quickly as the trio goes into a serious mode, with twisting guitar and piano notes and then a more traditional feel. The song ends as it began, with the return of the toy piano and the vinyl scratches.

These two albums have a great feel, which will please jazz piano fans and also those who like to listen to familiar tunes with an open mind.

I Was There

Tracks: Beyond The Sea; Charade; My Buddy; Just In Time; When I Look In your Eyes; The Shadow of Your Smile; I Was There; I'm Beginning To See The Light; A Nightingale Sand In Berkley Square; When your Lover Has Gone; That's All; My Funny Valentine; All By Myself; Something in Your Smile.

Personnel: Roger Kellaway: piano.

Remembering Bobby Darin

Tracks: Remember; Up A Lazy River; Meditation; More; Splish Splash; Oh! Look At Me Now; Once Upon a Time; I'm Beginning To See The Light; Beyond The Sea; Mack The Knife.

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


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Two Sides of John Wetton Multiple Reviews Two Sides of John Wetton
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 20, 2017
Read The Pianist as Director: Ryuichi Sakamoto and August Rosenbaum Multiple Reviews The Pianist as Director: Ryuichi Sakamoto and August...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 13, 2017
Read A Sense of Place Multiple Reviews A Sense of Place
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 12, 2017
Read David Murray Octets on Black Saint Multiple Reviews David Murray Octets on Black Saint
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 11, 2017
Read New and Notable Releases Multiple Reviews New and Notable Releases
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Psalms and Poetry: Den Danske Salmeduo and Nicolai Munch-Hansen" Multiple Reviews Psalms and Poetry: Den Danske Salmeduo and Nicolai...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Cassette Plus Download Labels" Multiple Reviews Cassette Plus Download Labels
by John Eyles
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "Lee Morgan On Music Matters" Multiple Reviews Lee Morgan On Music Matters
by Greg Simmons
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "Two Sides of John Wetton" Multiple Reviews Two Sides of John Wetton
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 20, 2017
Read "Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio" Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.