Shawn Salmon - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://www.jazzreview.com Tue, 23 May 2017 10:11:46 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb First Takes by Shelly Berg and Frank Potenza http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/first-takes-by-shelly-berg-and-frank-potenza.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/first-takes-by-shelly-berg-and-frank-potenza.html With so many big time record labels putting together super groups for a record, the end result is not exactly all that super. The playing from the individuals is outstandin…
With so many big time record labels putting together super groups for a record, the end result is not exactly all that super. The playing from the individuals is outstanding, but the whole album is missing something. You wonder if that artist would have sounded different if they recorded with say just their friends. Guitarist Frank Potenza and pianist Shelly Berg did just that and the end result is one of the finest duo albums to of come out in a long time. First Takes is a collection of standards and originals the two recorded at Schoenberg Hall at the University of Southern California. Frank and Shelly are both professors at the Thornton School of Music. They set up a digital 2-track and just started laying down favorites from concerts the two perform together. The end result is simply fantastic.

There are not many guitar/piano duo albums out there that are really great and it usually takes a pair of really great musicians to make it happen. Jim Hall/Bill Evans, Joe Pass/Oscar Peterson and Bill Frisell/Fred Hersch are name a few names that come to mind. The piano and guitar are so similar that many times they will conflict tonally, rhythmically and even harmonically. The skill it takes to blend the similarities but ascent their individuality is a difficult task.

The album starts with a solo introduction by Frank to the tune "Wonder Why." Shelly joins him at the top of the head. The two lock into a really fine swing and continue to let that ride through the whole album. During Frank’s solos, Shelly will comp chords with the right hand and walk a bass line in the left. When Shelly solos or takes the melody, Frank will walk a bass line and comp chords. They do this so fluently that there is never a moment of dead swing. They continue with a wonderful version of Fats Waller’s "Jitterbug Waltz." This is very swinging stuff.

The lone original on the album is a tune by Shelly Berg called "Oil and Water." What holds true throughout the entire album is how nicely the two compliment each other, while never dropping the intensity of the music. There are actually times where you would swear there was a drummer playing and he was just not mixed. What is also refreshing is their choice of tunes. It is a mix of familiar standards ("Yesterdays," "Driftin’," "Virgo") with some tunes you don’t hear as often ("Tonk," "Three in One," "Tristeza").

First Takes is album for the fan of the straight-ahead and swingin’ jazz. There isn’t anything on this album that is warrants just one listen. It is two very fine players doing just what two friends do...making great music together. Let us hope we will see a Second Take from the duo sometime soon.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Fri, 02 Sep 2005 13:00:00 -0500
Taking It All In by Peter Sprague http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/taking-it-all-in-by-peter-sprague.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/taking-it-all-in-by-peter-sprague.html Taking It All In by Peter Sprague
Guitarist Peter Sprague’s newest CD Taking It All In is fantastic. This is one guitarist who is stretching himself musically and artistically. The album was recorded…
Guitarist Peter Sprague’s newest CD Taking It All In is fantastic. This is one guitarist who is stretching himself musically and artistically. The album was recorded in Peter’s home studio, SpragueLand, so this gave him a greater range in layering and perfecting and the work shows. Three outstanding musicians, Tripp Sprague on tenor and flute, Bob Magnusson on bass, join Peter and Duncan Moore is on drums. The quartet jells and complement each other on all the tracks.

I hear many fine influences in Peter’s playing but Pat Metheny is one of the more prominent. The nice thing in his playing is I don’t hear a stream of "Methenyisms" but Peter is actually developing his own sound. The first track, "Taking It All In," is a lovely composition. The song begins with an acoustic guitar the stumming chords as the electric guitar and sax glide out the melody; the next section is the bass playing a new melody with the bow. It has a really nice flow that reminded me a lot of what one might hear on a Metheny or Marc Johnson’s Bass Desires. "Shinobi" is a great bebop composition; Peter keeps the solos interesting with added hits thrown in for a nice contrasted. On the funky side are the tracks "Acid Peter" and "Alien I.Q." Peter again composes really strong and smart tunes. They not just the band jamming over a vamp, but Peter has them really creating over some nice bluesy changes. The highlights are his acoustic pieces. The Latin "Zen Joao" and the folky "Gospel" are very nice. Again, Peter puts out strong compositions and fantastic playing on each. The interpretation of Pat Metheny’s "Travels" is also an acoustic highlight. It is good to hear a guitarist using many guitars on an album, as it brings life and energy to a song when you mix up the timbre.

Taking It All In is an album that does just that. It takes in Peter's fine gift of composition and improvisation. He should be at the top of the list when it comes to Artist Deserving Wider Recognition. But hopefully this album will strengthen this sentiment to others.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Contemporary Jazz - CD Reviews Sun, 14 Aug 2005 19:00:00 -0500
The Everest Years by Wild Bill Davis http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/the-everest-years-by-wild-bill-davis.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/the-everest-years-by-wild-bill-davis.html The organ in jazz is now a standard instrument. The organ trio is one to today’s hippest instrumentations. Groups like Soul Live and MMW can play in the jazz and jam-ban…

The organ in jazz is now a standard instrument. The organ trio is one to today’s hippest instrumentations. Groups like Soul Live and MMW can play in the jazz and jam-bands circuits. But before them we should tip our hats to one of the true founding fathers Wild Bill Davis. Everest has recently released a compilation Wild Bill Davis-The Everest Years to CD and is pact with the unsung giant of the organ’s finest work. Bill was born in 1918 and was originally a guitarist. In 1945, he switched to piano and performed with Louis Jordan and began arranging charts for him and others, even a few for Duke Ellington. Bill soon acquired a Hammond C-3 and made his debut trio recording in 1951. From there, "the rest is history."

The CD chronicles Bill’s stint on Everest Records from 1958-1961. The album begins with his final sides and ends with his earliest. The first five tracks are some of the hardest swinging sides on the CD. It was originally released in 1960 under the title Organ Grinder’s Swing. Grady Tate on drums, George Clark, tenor, and Calvin Newborn and Bill Jennings, guitars, join Bill; this band swings like mini-Basie band. Their arrangement of "Blue Skies" is fantastic and they fly over Benny Goodman’s "Flying Home." Tracks 6-10 are songs from the musical Milk and Honey (released 1961). They are not memorable tunes but trumpet virtuoso Charlie Shavers gives some very nice performances. The next five tracks are from the album Dis Heah (released 1960) and Bill is rejoined with Tate, Clark, Newborn and Jennings. Not only does Bill make the Jazz Messenges proud with their rendition of Boddy Timmons' "Dis Heah," but he shows us his softer side on the ballads "Angel Eyes," "What’s New" and "Round Midnight." We even hear a Wild Bill original "Wenkie." Tracks 16-20 the group losses Newborn on guitar, but continues to swing just as hard. The final five songs are all from the musical My Fair Lady (released 1958). These tracks have very little improvisation, but the playing and arrangements are all very enjoyable. Basie’s own Jo Jones on the drums; Milt Hinton on bass and Maurice Simon on tenor join Bill. Jo’s brushwork on the burning Show Me is worth the album alone.

The album is a great display of a true innovator in jazz organ as well a fabulous swing musician. Although the album is not a complete representation of his work on Everest it is a good start. Let’s hope they are getting ready to reissue a Part 2 soon.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Thu, 14 Jul 2005 07:00:00 -0500
Soul Circus by Victor Wooten http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/soul-/-funk-jazz-cd-reviews/soul-circus-by-victor-wooten.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/soul-/-funk-jazz-cd-reviews/soul-circus-by-victor-wooten.html The latest release Soul Circus from bassist Victor Wooten is exactly what it says it is a circus. Let me first say don’t expect a jazz album from this one. Victor is…
The latest release Soul Circus from bassist Victor Wooten is exactly what it says it is a circus. Let me first say don’t expect a jazz album from this one. Victor is working on a new category- family friendly hip-hop. I do believe Victor is one of the most extraordinary bassist to grace the instrument. With that said this album is nothing near extraordinary. It is amusing, the grooves are funky, the bass playing is tight, but the entire album is a little overly produced. Between the vocals, Bootsy Collins and daunting rapping it became hard, almost frustrating to enjoy the music behind it. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts so it is an enjoyable album for many people. The fans of "Show of Hands" and "Yin and Yang" or Bela Fleck may not be those people. Maybe the fans of Dave Matthews will dig Victor’s message of love and politics over these funky, hip-hop grooves.

Soul Circus is a collection of songs written by Victor and his various collaborators. His songs all have a strong positive message and many songs are very amusing. "Cell Phone" is a clever song/rap written around the sound of Victor’s cell ring tone. "Natives" is a nice funk tune fusing funk with Native American vocal chants. Victor’s "Bass Tribute" is a clever song that pays homage to all of the great bassists of past and present from Jaco to Bootsy. Victor asks, "What would (bassist name) say if he was here today?" followed by one of their signature licks. It is worth listening to the cut just to hear Victor nail each bassist signature lick note for note, tone for tone. Of course the song right before that is one called "Victa" completely about you know who. Victor is one heck of a producer. "On and On" is reminiscing of many classic Chaka Kahn songs. Saundra Williams is the featured vocalist and she does have a smooth voice. The closest thing on the album to an instrumental is the final track called "Ari’s Eyes". The track is so beautiful that it almost makes you mad he didn’t put more songs like that on the record and left off a few rappers. Victor even does much of the drum programs on the album.

The album is still a fine record though some tracks may not be what many Victor fans may expect, but then there are some fans that will love it. That is what makes him a true artist, the album pleases Victor. Victor says himself that he listens just as much to music he doesn’t like as music he does. You can learn something from all types of music. There is a lot to learn from this album. Be sure to check out more Victor at www.victorwooten.com, a great site for music and lessons from a truly wonderful bassist.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Soul / Funk Jazz - CD Reviews Sat, 19 Mar 2005 12:00:00 -0600
Jazz Moods - Sounds of Spring by Various Artists http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/jazz-moods-sounds-of-spring-by-various-artists.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/jazz-moods-sounds-of-spring-by-various-artists.html Concord Jazz’s latest compilation Sounds of Spring is truly the jazz sound track to spring. The CD’s twelve tracks from the greatest jazz artists of past and present…
Concord Jazz’s latest compilation Sounds of Spring is truly the jazz sound track to spring. The CD’s twelve tracks from the greatest jazz artists of past and present all have a spring theme to put you in the mood to "Up Jump" with the season. What is great with this compilation is that there is something for everyone. There are songs played by classic artists such as Count Basie, Red Garland, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Tony Bennett and Larry Coryell with Emily Remler. Each track has a spring inspired title such as Joy Spring, Up Jumped Spring and April In Paris to name just a few.

Though there are no surprises on the album like long lost cuts or unreleased takes each track is good. A true fan of each artist probably has already heard many of these cuts. Freddie Hubbard playing "Up Jumped Spring" or Miles Davis’ version of "I’ll Remember April" are well known classics. A few fun standouts in this collection are Count Basie playing "Royal Garden Blues" just with his quartet. It is always a treat to hear the Count just do his thing at the piano and of course you know it will swing your socks off. Another gem is Clifford Brown’s classic "Joy Spring" played by the wonderful Larry Coryell and Emily Remler just as a duo. There is also a nice version of "Too Young to Go Steady" sung by Karrin Allyson. Susannah McCorkle also does a pleasant version of Jobim’s "The Waters Of March". It is just a shame the album does not let you know which album each track was taken from so you can easily hear more from all these great artists or get the compete album and find out who else in performing with them on the track.

This CD is definitely aimed at the jazz listener who enjoys beautifully played music. Each track will leave the listener relaxed and ready to embrace the fresh new season of spring. You can see the flowers budding no matter if it is in March or April, spring is defiantly not late this year, in fact you can now take it with you all year round.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Sat, 19 Mar 2005 06:00:00 -0600
Live! by Scott Henderson http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/live-by-scott-henderson.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/live-by-scott-henderson.html Live! (Tone Center) is guitarist Scott Henderson’s newest album with his newly formed blues band. The blues/fusion guitarist whose work with Tribal Tech and collabor…
Live! (Tone Center) is guitarist Scott Henderson’s newest album with his newly formed blues band. The blues/fusion guitarist whose work with Tribal Tech and collaborations with Victor Wooten and Steve Smith with Vital Tech Tones has made him a familiar face to the world of shredder guitarists. Live! is Henderson’s the fourth release with Scott Henderson’s Blues Band since 2002’s Well to the Bone. On Live! Scott is in trio format with John Humphrey on bass and Tribal Tech partner Kirk Covington lending his voice along with his drums. The majority of the 2 disc album was recorded live from La Ve Lee Jazz Club in California. Scott continues to add his distinct blend of Hendrix and Vaughan with Via and Satriani through each fun song and unique composition. What in most enjoyable about the album is it is not a flat out blues record. Scott mixes things up very nicely, from blues to straight ahead jazz to even drum’n bass, Live! covers a lot of ground.

The two disc album is like a live greatest hits of nearly all the groups that Scott has performed with, from the blues band to Tribal Tech, you get a taste of everything. It is a great display of the many faces of Scott Henderson. His tones are wonderful and seem to speak each of the various emotions being sought after in each tune. Much of the material on the album is from his 2002 release Well to the Bone (ESC Records) including Covington doing the vocals on Well to the Bone and Meter Maid. One of the bigger highlights is the trios rendition of Jakarta, first recorded off of Reality Check. with Tribal Tech. Though much of the album is Scott digging deep into his great blues and rock bag, he still does a very nice rendition of Wayne Shorter’s Fee Fi Fo Fum. The band could easily record a good straight-ahead record. The finest work comes when the trio performs Nairobe Express, first recorded with Wooten and Smith on VTT2. Not only is it a great fusion composition, the trio plays it beautifully and the solos from each member are outstanding. Most notably is Covington laying down a drum ‘n bass groove in a way that would make Jojo Mayer smile. The album ends with Scott doing some chicken picken on Hillbilly in the Band. I tell you the man can do it all very well. With fantastic solos by the entire trio throughout, this live album lacks nothing, even the recording quality is great.

Live! is blues, Live! is rock, Live! is fusion at its finest. I highly recommend Live! for all Henderson, Tribal Tech, VTT and just plan guitar fans all around.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Fusion - CD Reviews Thu, 20 Jan 2005 12:00:00 -0600
Eldar by Eldar http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/eldar-by-eldar.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/eldar-by-eldar.html Now at age of 18 Eldar has been turning heads in the world of jazz for some time now. He has impressed jazz greats such as Benny Carter and Dr. Billy Taylor and was asked b…
Now at age of 18 Eldar has been turning heads in the world of jazz for some time now. He has impressed jazz greats such as Benny Carter and Dr. Billy Taylor and was asked by Wynton Marsalis to perform at the Lincoln Center in 2004. Born in the former Soviet Union, Eldar Djangirov began playing piano at age 5 and has been seen performing on the 42nd annual Grammy Awards to Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz show (the youngest ever). His self titled debut for Sony Classical is a wonderful way to introduce this young pianist to the jazz world.

Along with Todd Strait on drums and the wonderful John Patitucci on bass, Eldar’s trio rips new life into eight jazz classics and performs four of his own originals, including one with tenor saxophone great Michael Brecker.

Each track shows Eldar has done his homework and has worked both his right and left hand to perfection. On Sweet Georgia Brown Eldar displays a hard driving aggressiveness similar to Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson. Then he turns to a more sensitive Bill Evans'ish approach on Nature Boy. Eldar displays a great deal of chops as the trio works through an up latin version of Herbie’s Maiden Voyage. Eldar’s real sensitive side is shown in his original compositions. Raindrops and Lady Wicks are two beautiful original tunes that let Eldar and the trio fully explore the emotional values of his music. Michael Brecker joins the trio on Point of View, another enjoyable original reminiscent of Chick Corea and early Brecker works. Eldar even funks it up on his original Watermelon Island (I wonder who he was inspired by here).

Look for Eldar to be out in stores March 8th. He is definitely a young artist to keep a close eye on. He still has room to grow though. Like many young prodigy’s Eldar can at times overplay and almost making you feel like he is screaming his ideas at you. But I have no doubt he will continue to aspire to jazz greatness in the long years to come and it will be fun to hear what he creates as he does it.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Thu, 20 Jan 2005 06:00:00 -0600
Grand Pianoramax by Grand Pianoramax http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/ambient-jazz-cd-reviews/grand-pianoramax-by-grand-pianoramax.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/ambient-jazz-cd-reviews/grand-pianoramax-by-grand-pianoramax.html Grand Pianoramax is the self-titled debut "Nu-Jazz" album from keyboardist Leo Tardin. As a huge fan of the New York inspired techno-jazz-funk-fusion blend, I am ver…
Grand Pianoramax is the self-titled debut "Nu-Jazz" album from keyboardist Leo Tardin. As a huge fan of the New York inspired techno-jazz-funk-fusion blend, I am very pleased to hear a new artist exploring the sounds of this new jazz genre. Swedish born pianist Leo Tardin took home the 1st place prize at the 1999 Mortreux Jazz Festival Piano Solo Competition and now has released a CD that combines his gift for composition with the tight drum’n bass rhythms laid down by the extremely brilliant drummers Jojo Mayer and Ferenc Nemeth.

Combining drum n’bass and techno grooves is not a new thing in jazz, Herbie Hancock and groups like Boomish have been doing it very well for years. I believe Leo Tardin’s instrumentation of keyboards and drums is just perfect for expressing his compositions. Much of the album was recorded in real time, occasionally looping a bass groove on his moog and playing a fender Rhodes or acoustic piano over it. The interaction between the two instruments pans out nicely throughout the entire album. Driven by Jojo’s intrinsic grooves, each track could easy fit in at both your local dance club or jazz venue. Some of the highlights are the tracks Starlight and Freestyle Figures. But when working in a new genre such as this it leaves much room for greater development and exploration. There were a few tracks that I felt Leo could of developed more compositionally. The techno beats are fantastic, but many times I would of liked to have heard his melodies and motives developed more. Two of the finer compositions on the album, the ones I feel Leo did develop more, do not use Jojo but Ferenc Nemeth on drums. The Walk and The Space Race do a great job of blending techno funk with jazz sensitivities.

Overall Grand Pianoramax is a great start for this new group and should be a must have for any Jojo Mayer or drum n’bass enthusiast. It has something that will appeal to the jazz fan and the funky techno head in all of us.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Ambient Jazz - CD Reviews Thu, 20 Jan 2005 00:00:00 -0600
Just Like Me by Jeff Kaye http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/just-like-me-by-jeff-kaye.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/just-like-me-by-jeff-kaye.html Los Angeles based trumpeter Jeff Kaye's debut CD Just Like Me will take jazz fans back to the days of classic 1960’s Blue Note. Recorded in 2004, Just Like …

Los Angeles based trumpeter Jeff Kaye's debut CD Just Like Me will take jazz fans back to the days of classic 1960’s Blue Note. Recorded in 2004, Just Like Me features some fantastic straight-ahead playing from everyone involved including George Harper on tenor and the wonderful Paul Kreibich, both Ray Charles alumni like Kaye. Jeff Kaye joined the Ray Charles Orchestra in 1984 and continued to work with the group on and off up until 2003. Jeff can be heard on the soundtrack to the movie Ray.

Just Like Me is Jeff’s first album and is a really good way to start his solo career. The album is said to be a reflection of Jeff’s life and after listening to the album I like where he has been. Jeff’s tone is warm and embracing and from his melodies I can tell he is steeped in the jazz, especial hard bop, traditions. The group comes out swinging hard with the soul of Ray Charles right from the first number "Harvey Haedbanger," a tune written by Rick Hills for Brother Ray’s big band. Jeff contributes two nice compositions for the album. "Sozinho" has a sweet Brazilian flavor and a nice flugelhorn solo by Jeff. "Other Steps," a new melody over "Giant Steps," has a great Trane influenced solo by tenor man Harper. There are also fine contributions by bassist Isla Eckinger in "Two Deaf Lice" and "Jay." Drummer Paul Kreibich shines in "Partido In Mar Vista" and saxophonist George Harper in "Shalabunga." With an album packed with such great compositions, as well as fine performances, it is hard not to like every track. I really enjoyed how well everyone on the album is featured throughout. I get the impression this group would be fantastic to see live. After such a brilliant debut CD as this, it can only leave the listen anxious for more. I have a feeling Jeff is anxious to give us more. Just Like Me would a great addition to the jazz lovers CD collection just as Jeff Kaye’s music is a great additions to jazz.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Thu, 05 Aug 2004 11:09:57 -0500
Celebrating the Music of Bobby Darin by Roger Kellaway http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/celebrating-the-music-of-bobby-darin-by-roger-kellaway.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/celebrating-the-music-of-bobby-darin-by-roger-kellaway.html To coincide with the release of the Kevin Spacey movie Beyond the Sea, IPO released pianist Roger Kellaway’s 2005 solo piano recording I Was There- Roger Kella…

To coincide with the release of the Kevin Spacey movie Beyond the Sea, IPO released pianist Roger Kellaway’s 2005 solo piano recording I Was There- Roger Kellaway Plays From the Bobby Darin Songbook. The album is a beautiful tribute to not just a wonderful singer but also the art of great song writing. The album is a collection of jazz and pop standards sung by the late Bobby Darin as well as an original by Kellaway. There is no one better to portray these musical gems than the man who was Bobby Darin’s accompanist and arranger during the late 1960’s. His close connection to Bobby is displayed in every note on the album. But Roger’s talent is not limited to just jazz. From Elvis to Ellington, Dizzy to Yo-Yo Ma, Roger has performed and recorded with some of the greatest musical talent of the past 40 years. Kellaway has written music for the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony, and the New York Ballet to name a few. His writing can be heard on nearly twenty-five film scores including the Academy Award nominated A Star is Born. To help promote the movie Roger even toured in December of 2004 with Kevin Spacey, accompanying him for his concerts.

For Kellaway’s latest release he chooses a more intimate setting to portray the music so closely in touch with Bobby Darin, solo piano. As a pianist Roger is fantastic. His touch is wonderfully soft when needed and always swinging. I enjoyed the interaction between his right and left hand. Roger is a master of melodic counterpoint, weaving melodies throughout the entire register of the piano. No mater if he is playing a tender ballad like Bricusse’s "When I Look In You Eyes" or Darin’s signature tune "Beyond the Sea", Roger gives each song a beautiful portrayal. Not only do I hear Bobby Darin singing each song but I also hear Roger’s personal feelings and attachment to each piece he performs. He does a great job of making every track true to himself. Some standout performances come on Kellaway’s rendition of Mandel’s classic "The Shadow of Your Smile". Many people would hear Sinatra’s version, but Roger gives you Darin and Kellaway. The song is actually one that Darin personally requested Roger to arrange for him and became quit a hit for Darin. The emotional rendition is simply perfect. Roger does a unique tour d’force with the Ellington classic "I’m Beginning to See the Light". The song swings so hard you almost can hear Duke’s big band behind him all the way. The only original on the album is Kellaway’s "I Was There". It is a lovely light swinging song with a melody that invokes visions of Darin and Roger together in a Los Angeles nightclub in 1967. Roger even sings the final track "Something In Your Smile".

I Was There is a perfect album to celebrate the music and the life a Bobby Darin. There is no better person to lead the celebration than the man who was there, Roger Kellaway. I strongly recommend this album for all fans of not just Bobby Darin or solo piano, but of a song, a truly beautiful song. The albums thirteen great classics and one original will take you back to a time when melodies and a tender story was what gave birth to these songs. A great singer like Bobby Darin and musician like Roger Kellaway made them timeless.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shawn Salmon) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Wed, 07 Jul 2004 11:08:31 -0500