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.