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Reviews: Duke at the Roadhouse: Live in Santa Fe

KellawayDaniels


CD Review: Jazz Inside July 2013
By Mark Keresman

Let us begin at the beginning: Pianist Roger Kellaway and Eddie Daniels have played with more people than you and the person nearest you has consumed hot breakfasts. Kellaway, aside from his “pure” jazz credits with Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins, and Oliver Nelson, may be the MOST heard jazz 88’s player ever. Not only has he accompanied singers diverse as Elvis Presley, Lena Horne, Joni Mitchell, and Van Morrison, but that rollicking but sentimental piano theme that closes every episode of TV’s groundbreaking sitcom All in the Family? Him, heard in rerun heaven forever. Daniels has heard with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Johnny Hammond, and more. These gents have played together before in various contexts, but Duke at the Roadhouse is special even for them. Firstly, this set is a duo “plus”—Kellaway’s keys, Daniels’ clarinet (and occasional tenor sax), and the cello of James Holland on some songs. Recorded live in Santa Fe, these three amigos go to town on the music of, and inspired by, Duke Ellington. True, these are some of the Duke’s biggest, most well-known hits, but they’re rendered in such grand style only the biggest nitpicker/ogre will say, “Yet another Perdido?” They preserve and play up the Ellingtonian standards with conciseness (only one of the ten tracks is over nine minutes), inspired invention, and loving tribute. “Beginning to See the Light” christens the voyage with Daniels’ warm, reedy, woody-toned clarinet, evoking the vivid opulence of Duke’s man Barney Bigard and the genial swing of Benny Goodman, but with a saxophone-like fullness. Kellaway plays sparingly at first, then with an old-school extravagance, with just the wee-est touch of schmaltz and with Monk-ian wit. (Let us not forget that Ellington was somewhat underrated as a pianist and was an influence on both Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor… but I digress.) “Creole Love Call” is a superb example on how blues playing was transformed by Ellington, and subsequently these cats. Daniels plays, no, is New Orleans blues feeling with some NYC bop-era suavity while Kellaway keeps it so (deceptively) simple you, Dear Listener, might cry. “Perdido,” that most happy-go-lucky of Duke-al swingers, gets transformed into elegant chamber music—jazz, to be sure, but played with the elegance, precision, and intimacy of a classical chamber group. Holland’s cello has a presence that’s stately (think Ravel and Milhaud) and positively orchestral, while Daniels applies a more ornate logic to the tune, making it sound as if its origins were the Les Six of Paris in the 1920s rather than Ellington…almost, as Kellaway keeps it earthy, and the lads don’t skimp on the swing (they just channel it differently). “Duke at the Roadhouse” is puckish and swinging, Kellaway and Daniels basing their statements on Ellington without actually copying him. “In A Mellow Tone” features Daniels switching from clarinet to tenor, which he plays with steely-shiny Frank Foster tone on the outside, full of Frank Wess romantic flair on the inside. “In A SAentimental Mood” finds Holland swinging as if he were the Stephane Grappelli of the cello. The wonderful thing—aside from how swell this set is in general—is these gents could’ve simply breezed though these tunes with their usual suss and aplomb and this would have still been a fine album. While none of the renditions on Roadhouse are really radical, this duoplus- one gives these evergreens some tasty, well-thought, none-too-obvious interpretations, mixing/alternating blues feeling, classical élan, modernist wit, and heartfelt, just-short-of-sappy tenderness. Factor in excellent sonic quality and the Collective We just might be looking at one of the best “duo” albums of 2013.
Duke at the Roadhouse is prime jazz at its best, doing what jazz is s'posed to do.', June 11, 2013
by Grady Harp (Amazon review)

To say that the music of Duke Elliington will never be forgotten is an understatement. He has been honored by more vocalists and ensembles than just about any jazz composer. This particular CD is a live recording from a concert performance by Clarinetist Eddie Daniels and Pianist Roger Kellaway who have been making music together since the 80s. They have been both revered and sublimated by critics and listeners during their long and sometimes obscured careers. Make no mistake, though they are great musicians who somehow do not get the credit they deserve as true jazz masters. And this collection of works represents timeless music that satisfies cravings for both emotional complexity and plain old joy.

The concert dates to October 2012 in Santa Fe, New Mexico and was a benefit concert by a group called `New Mexico Center for Therapeutic Riding' - a group that helps young people with disabilities while working with horses. To add depth and a darker, classical tonality to the improvisations. Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway brought in cellist James Holland who proved not only able to adapt to the improvisational aspects of the music, but also add a sophistication that enhances the effect of the resulting ensemble. With Daniels and Kellaway, the Duke's music is in good hands.

The tracks on this CD are listed as follows:

I'm Beginning to See the Light (Ellington / George / Hodges / James)
Creole Love Call (Duke Ellington)
Perdidio (Tizol / Drake / Lengsfelder)
Duke at the Roadhouse (Eddie Daniels)
In a Mellow Tone (Ellington / Gabler)
In a Sentimental Mood (Ellington / Kurtz / Mills)
Sophisticated Lady (Ellington / Mills / Parish)
Duke in Ojai (Roger Kellaway)
Mood Indigo (Bigard / Ellington / Mills)
It Don't Mean a Thing (Ellington / Mills)

Kick back and tune in to the pros enhancing Ellington. Grady Harp

The Entertainment Bank
By Charles A. Smith

Trios -- what a sound they can produce! On their new CD "Duke At The Roadhouse: Live In Santa Fe", Eddie Daniels (clarinet/tenor sax) and Roger Kellaway (piano) give a riveting live performance in Santa Fe, along with James Holland on cello. The music produced by the three is vintage jazz at its best. Live recordings really allow the listener to be a part of the show to a certain extent. These superb musicians make beautiful music together, and listeners will most certainly appreciate their efforts and talent.

Playing the works of Duke Ellington, they pay homage to America's greatest composer in stellar fashion. Each musician stuns you with his abilities, soloing and harmonizing to the great classic melodies of The Duke. A few of their own compositions add to and enrich the flavor of this CD, which is classic excellence. Daniels, considered by to be the best clarinet jazz player in the world, leaves no room for doubt as to why he has that reputation with every note that he plays. Kellaway keeps pace on piano, and is simply superb. With the addition of the cello, the phrasing and deep harmonies are very pleasant to listen to. On "Sophisticated Lady", Daniels really showcases his prowess on sax. This one is definitely for Jazz aficionados. Released June 11th on the Ipo Records label, the CD has a slow and deliberate pace and is chock full of rich and delightful music. Tunes like "Creole Love Call", "In a Mellow Tone", "In A Sentimental Mood", "Mood Indigo" and others are handled with extreme care. What has been produced here is a fine jazz CD of the highest caliber. It's a must have for the true Jazz lover with amazing jazz solos on all three instruments. I highly recommend this CD!!

EJAZZNEWS Jun 24, 2013 by BillD

A virtual orchestral duo, Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway brought their consummate musicianship, the cumulative result of approximately one hundred years of combined experience, to raise funds for disabled children in 2012 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Why describe the concert as “orchestral,” besides the fact that Daniels and Kellaway can cover parts that other instruments, like trumpets and trombones, have played in jazz orchestra arrangements? The other reason is that they decided to perform a concert of Duke Ellington’s music. Without section arrangements. Without a rhythm section. Just piano and clarinet or saxophone. The lack of a band’s sometimes instrumental redundancy, or alternatively the lack of instrumental combined fullness of sound, challenges the audience not only to listen more intently to the music, but also to feel the silent pulse during the pauses. To imagine, or to remember, the Ellington orchestra’s harmonies when the soloists aren’t playing. Like numerous other jazz musicians who re-discover the delights of Ellington’s music, Daniels and Kellaway internalize it, adapting to their styles and personalities, making it reflections of their selves, as the songs nonetheless remain constant.

It appears that Daniels and Kellaway wrote arrangements of their own as they allow space for abundant improvisation throughout the recorded concert. The first song, “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” starts with a first chorus of Daniels playing melody and then a second of his improvisation backed by Kellaway’s almost imperceptible spare harmonies, until Kellaway’s roaring glissando cranks up the volume and the dynamism. One can’t help but notice the duo’s arranged unison lines and gentlemanly give-and-take of melodic parts. The same with the final piece, “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” which begins as a waltz with genteel, even eighth-note classical borrowings. Yet, after a switch into jazz territory, more Goodman than Ellington, the piece ends with pre-determined, playful, exceedingly difficult gales of notes. The fact that the first tornadic musical upsweep doesn’t end in unison as intended, Kellaway a fraction of a second behind Daniels, indicates the challenge of their performance and their fun in reaching to achieve it. As if giving themselves a second chance, not to mention adding a dramatic finish to the concert, Daniels and Kellaway repeat the written Goodmanesque unison sixteenth-note excitement and nail it the second time.

The chameleonic Kellaway adapts to every interpretation of Ellington’s music, employing styles from stride to blues to free jazz, as he injects unpredictability into every piece. While some of the song choices seem aligned with the instrumental traditions of Daniels’s instruments, like “Creole Love Song” on clarinet and “In a Mellow Tone” on tenor sax, Kellaway adapts instantaneously and flexibly to the feeling of the moment, as effective as a respectful medium-volume accompanist as he is as an intriguing, commanding soloist. An idea from Kellaway’s past recurs when cellist James Holland plays on four tracks, recalling Kellaway’s cello quartet from the early seventies. Holland broadens the colors presented by the now-a-trio with his cello’s sonorous bowed gracefulness of flowing harmonies. It’s when Holland steps out with confident, virtuosic solos, as during “In a Mellow Tone,” that his musicianship becomes evident, and the group’s interpretations attain additional dimensions. For instance, “Perdido’s” introduction proceeds with slower-than-expected trading of bars of melody among Daniels, Kellaway and Holland before the successive improvisations elucidate the stylistic differentiation among the three.

Daniels and Kellaway each wrote a composition for the occasion. Daniels’s “Duke at the Roadhouse” celebrates the concert with a light-hearted, floating tripleted theme that allows for plenty of improvisational space over the composition’s chords. Kellaway’s “Duke in Ojai,” a fanciful what-if title in itself, depends upon descending changes concluding in a punctuating six-note phrase, the intertwined musical lines as supreme as expected.

Two musicians applying lifetimes of ideas and accomplishments to a selection of Ellington’s songs, Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway individualize the music, command the instruments, generate engaging ideas, and affect the audience in the service of a worthy fund-raising project and of the delights afforded by the highest levels of jazz performance.

CD Review: Jazz Inside July 2013
By Mark Keresman

Let us begin at the beginning: Pianist Roger Kellaway and Eddie Daniels have played with more people than you and the person nearest you has consumed hot breakfasts. Kellaway, aside from his “pure” jazz credits with Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins, and Oliver Nelson, may be the MOST heard jazz 88’s player ever. Not only has he accompanied singers diverse as Elvis Presley, Lena Horne, Joni Mitchell, and Van Morrison, but that rollicking but sentimental piano theme that closes every episode of TV’s groundbreaking sitcom All in the Family? Him, heard in rerun heaven forever. Daniels has heard with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Johnny Hammond, and more. These gents have played together before in various contexts, but Duke at the Roadhouse is special even for them. Firstly, this set is a duo “plus”—Kellaway’s keys, Daniels’ clarinet (and occasional tenor sax), and the cello of James Holland on some songs. Recorded live in Santa Fe, these three amigos go to town on the music of, and inspired by, Duke Ellington. True, these are some of the Duke’s biggest, most well-known hits, but they’re rendered in such grand style only the biggest nitpicker/ogre will say, “Yet another Perdido?” They preserve and play up the Ellingtonian standards with conciseness (only one of the ten tracks is over nine minutes), inspired invention, and loving tribute. “Beginning to See the Light” christens the voyage with Daniels’ warm, reedy, woody-toned clarinet, evoking the vivid opulence of Duke’s man Barney Bigard and the genial swing of Benny Goodman, but with a saxophone-like fullness. Kellaway plays sparingly at first, then with an old-school extravagance, with just the wee-est touch of schmaltz and with Monk-ian wit. (Let us not forget that Ellington was somewhat underrated as a pianist and was an influence on both Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor… but I digress.) “Creole Love Call” is a superb example on how blues playing was transformed by Ellington, and subsequently these cats. Daniels plays, no, is New Orleans blues feeling with some NYC bop-era suavity while Kellaway keeps it so (deceptively) simple you, Dear Listener, might cry. “Perdido,” that most happy-go-lucky of Duke-al swingers, gets transformed into elegant chamber music—jazz, to be sure, but played with the elegance, precision, and intimacy of a classical chamber group. Holland’s cello has a presence that’s stately (think Ravel and Milhaud) and positively orchestral, while Daniels applies a more ornate logic to the tune, making it sound as if its origins were the Les Six of Paris in the 1920s rather than Ellington…almost, as Kellaway keeps it earthy, and the lads don’t skimp on the swing (they just channel it differently). “Duke at the Roadhouse” is puckish and swinging, Kellaway and Daniels basing their statements on Ellington without actually copying him. “In A Mellow Tone” features Daniels switching from clarinet to tenor, which he plays with steely-shiny Frank Foster tone on the outside, full of Frank Wess romantic flair on the inside. “In A SAentimental Mood” finds Holland swinging as if he were the Stephane Grappelli of the cello. The wonderful thing—aside from how swell this set is in general—is these gents could’ve simply breezed though these tunes with their usual suss and aplomb and this would have still been a fine album. While none of the renditions on Roadhouse are really radical, this duoplus- one gives these evergreens some tasty, well-thought, none-too-obvious interpretations, mixing/alternating blues feeling, classical élan, modernist wit, and heartfelt, just-short-of-sappy tenderness. Factor in excellent sonic quality and the Collective We just might be looking at one of the best “duo” albums of 2013.