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Heroes by The Roger Kellaway Trio

When pianist Roger Kellaway first thought about becoming a jazz musician in the ‘50s, keyboard legend Oscar Peterson was hitting his stride with his great trios. They included Ray Brown on bass, and, first, Barney Kessel, then Herb Ellis on guitar.

Peterson's trios were a big influence on Kellaway. As he states it in the liner notes, "And...that sound they made together. It certainly would have defeated me when I was young because it was so brilliant....the will to swing that I picked up from him." Kellaway calls Oscar an enormous influence.

This CD serves as Kellaway’s tribute to Peterson. It is, in fact, the first time Kellaway has recorded in the trio format. Helping immensely here are Bruce Forman on guitar and Dan Lutz on bass. The tunes featured were all recorded by Peterson.

The album is characterized by the group’s straight-ahead, hard-driving swing. With 10 selections, the cuts perfectly capture Peterson’s "will to swing, " while leaving room for these musician’s expressive talent to come through.

The album also honors other great trios-Nat Cole’ and Art Tatum’s, specifically. To illustrate, "Moten Swing" shows Kellaway getting into a Tatum-like stride groove.

The lightly rhythmic "I’m Smiling Again" (a Kellaway original) is a further delight. Listen to the way Lutz’ bouncy bass line is prominent throughout, with Forman’s guitar and Kellaway’s piano cohesively joining in. "Midnight Sun," following, gives Forman’s haunting guitar work a chance to shine.

On "52nd Street Theme," it’s like listening to Peterson, himself, with Kellaway playing a mile-a-minute, again Foreman stands out in the background-another great example of trio inter-action.

Peterson’s composition "Hymn to Freedom" is a great way to end the CD. Kellaway takes this stately gospel-like anthem, building relentlessly until breaking into a bluesy riff and finally settling into a quietly serene ending.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Roger Kellaway Trio
  • CD Title: Heroes
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: IPO Recordings
  • Rating: Four Stars
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