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Roger Kellaway: The Many Open Minds Of Roger Kellaway

Dan Bilawsky By

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There's not a single category that can contain the wit and wonder that is Roger Kellaway. Over the past 60 years he's put his musical stamp on film, television, pop, rock, new age, ballet, and modern classical forms, garnering awards and acclaim wherever his pen and piano work happen to fall. And let's not forget jazz. While Kellaway has played with a laundry list of notables from the aforementioned realms, his jazz résumé is no less impressive. Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Oliver Nelson, Wes Montgomery, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, Eddie Daniels and numerous others have benefited from his support on records of note. Yet Kellaway's greatest contributions to the music may be what he's released under his own name, not what he's done for others. His signature blend of virtuosic flair and good taste can be heard across his entire leader discography, from the early records to his Concord outings of the '90s to his latter-day dates—like this one—for IPO.

Recorded live in 2010 at The Jazz Bakery in Santa Monica, California, The Many Open Minds Of Roger Kellaway finds the pianist playing trio with guitarist Bruce Forman and bassist Dan Lutz. The material is all run-of-the-mill—standards that everybody, including Kellaway, has worked with ad infinitum— but everything still dazzles. Taking the kid gloves off right at the top, the trio kicks things off with a "52nd Street Theme" that's as hot as they come. Kellaway and Forman fire the 16th note lines in the head back and forth, giving off an early hint of a conversational rapport that comes to the fore quite often, and the trio sprints together in total synchronicity. Then the tempos cool off a bit, but the magic remains. "Have You Met Miss Jones?," opening with Kellaway out front, finds a comfortable, moderate pace that allows for some back-and-forth banter. "Doxy" raises the rafters with bluesy aplomb and down-home goodness, eventually upping the ante through a dalliance with double-time. And "Take Five" digs in hard, with Lutz's wide beat grounding the grooving and soloing.

Sticking with the established programming formula straight through to the end, Kellaway and company deliver three more fan favorites to close out the date. First there's a mellow "Take The 'A' Train" that starts on the unusually slow track and eventually hits a double-time stride. Then there's an agreeable "Night And Day" that proves to be a mostly mannered offering. And finally we have a "Caravan" that cooks straight to the finish line. Through it all, Kellaway demonstrates his pianistic prowess with near-unmatched agility, flexibility and strength. At a time when the jazz community has been forced to say goodbye to such elders as Harold Mabern, Larry Willis and Richard Wyands, it's nice to know that some piano giants like Roger Kellaway still walk the Earth.

Track Listing: 52nd Street Theme; Have You Met Miss Jones; Doxy; Take Five; Take The 'A' Train; Night And Day; Caravan.

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

Title: The Many Open Minds Of Roger Kellaway | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: IPO Recordings

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