Friday, October 25, 2013

Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway: Duke at the Roadhouse

IPO Recordings
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Duke at the Roadhouse

The jazz world offers musicians, great musicians and master musicians. This album features two of the latter: Eddie Daniels, who plays clarinet, tenor and alto sax, flute and piccolo; and Roger Kellaway, who plays piano, composes and arranges. They collectively have more than a century of experience, and are fluent in both the jazz and classical genres. 

They’re peers; Daniels was born in 1941, and Kellaway in 1939. Daniels’ first instrument was the alto sax, but he switched to tenor, then added the clarinet by the time he entered college. Since the early 1980s, clarinet has been his primary instrument. Kellaway has concentrated on the piano, but he also describes himself as a cello addict. In classical circles, he’s probably best known for his 1970s cello quartet recordings.

It’s difficult to find jazz-related individuals, or organizations, that Daniels and Kellaway haven’t worked with, and almost as hard to find classical ensembles that didn’t feature them. Both have won numerous awards.

This album isn’t their first collaboration; I reviewed — and loved — Duet of One several years ago. This time out, Daniels and Kellaway are honoring Duke Ellington’s music. The menu therefore includes seven of Duke’s compositions (“In a Sentimental Mood,” “Sophisticated Lady” and others), along with one that Duke didn’t write, but always has been associated with him: Juan Tizol’s “Perdido.” The disc is rounded out by two originals: Daniels’ “Duke at the Roadhouse” and Kellaway’s “Duke in Ojai.” 

For the most part, these tracks are presented as duets: Kellaway on piano, Daniels on clarinet or tenor sax. A cello is added a few times; be advised that Kellaway wrote every note for that instrument, including the solo passages.

This is a must-have album, particularly for Ellington fans. It’s the jazz equivalent of watching da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa.

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