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A Duet Of One: Live At The Bakery by Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway

There’s no doubt about it: These are two professional jazz musicians, unique in their own ways, at the peak of their abilities. Decades of experience and constant performance have led to the point where Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway have no need for a rhythm section for enthralling an audience. Having recorded together on To Bird with Love and Memoes from Paradise, the clarinetist and pianist can anticipate each other’s thoughts and respond to one another’s suggestions with split-second understanding and embellishment. A Duet of One includes ten pieces performed entirely by improvisation a high-wire actc with absolutely no safety net or preparation other than trusting one another’s instincts during a 2005 engagement at Culver City’s Jazz Bakery. Releasing a CD of the performance is a natural for IPO Recordings; both musicians already had recorded typically high-quality albums for the label within the past few years.

Daniels and Kellaway tear into "I’m Getting Sentimental over You" without any forethought other than key signature and then let the spontaneity unfold. While the name of the album is clever, suggesting conjoined individuality, the salient element of the concert, as it is with many of Kellaway’s duo albums, is their feeding of ideas to one another. A solo album by either one would not be quite the same, without the same sense of sharing and fun, as heard on A Duet of One. On "I’m Getting Sentimental over You," both of them swap the melody after Kellaway’s convention introduction and start feeling their way around the song, Kellway inserting some stride and Daniels fluttering through fluid improvisation and rising to the top of the clarinet’s altissimo range before a key change. The listener to the album has the advantage over the Jazz Bakery audience member of replaying the music and noting that Kellaway adds what seems to be an extreme upper-register accent at the beginning of the concert. Instead, it becomes of signature phrase throughout the concert that both musicians repeat and elaborate. Paquito D’Rivera, who wrote the liner notes appreciation, notes that the three notes that evolve and entertain are A-flat, A, B-flat (saving me the trouble of finding the notes myself), utter simplicity that becomes a connective marker for the concert.

The tour de force of the concert comes just before its mid-point, no doubt unwittingly so, as the two play with the possibilities of "I Want to Be Happy." First, the ingenious introduction consists of Daniels’ quick cascade of notes symmetrically upswept that Kellaway repeats before it concept is applied to rising patterns and comical variations on the Laurel & Hardy theme (which, after all, was played on clarinet during the movies). Obviously, they are instantaneously determining the direction of the performance, even as Daniels plays the melody, first slowly and then in swing. It seems that the three-note accent occurs to Daniels during his improvisation and then Kellaway picks up on it before it helps set up the remaining character of the track, interspersed naturall with a wealth of other ideas like references to "The Minute Waltz" and "Perdido," not to mention Kellaway’s rumbling, seemingly helter-skelter, enthralling solo of sometimes pounding bass notes.

Still, Daniels and Kellaway planned the night at The Jazz Bakery for a variety of styles, and so they softly, carefully play Hoagy Carmichael’s insinuating "New Orleans" with all due devotion to that city’s atmosphere, where again clarinetists are part of its soundscape. Daniels’ "Blue Waltz" is equally poignant, an affecting ballad tenderly played, that is an exercise in classically derived beauty and restraint, knowing full well that both musicians could indulge in joyous romp at any moment if they chose to do so. Daniels’ compositions include as well the subtle, slow and harmonically at-first indeterminate "Slow Dance"; his engaging "Adagio Swing" based upon Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni’s and successively Remo Giazotto’s "Adagio in G Minor"; and the appropriately concluding "We’ll Always Be Together." As for Kellaway, he contributes his exercise in counterpoint, "This Is the Time," wherein he and Daniels pursue separate intertwining lines of jaunty improvisation; and yet another singable ballad, "Love of My Life" that they bring to life with the full force of a duo.

Not only was the Daniels-Kellaway performance a night to remember at The Jazz Bakery, but now they have an outstanding CD that demonstrates the power of two musicians with remarkable technical abilities to impress listeners with the thrill of spontaneity.

Don Williamson

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway
  • CD Title: A Duet Of One: Live At The Bakery
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: IPO Recordings
  • Tracks: I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, Slow Dance, Adagio Swing, I Want To Be Happy, New Orleans, This Is The Time, After You’ve Gone, Blue Waltz, Love Of My Life, We’ll Always Be Together
  • Musicians: Eddie Daniels (clarinet), Roger Kellaway (piano)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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