Renowned Pianist, Arranger and Composer Roger Kellaway Announces the Release of His Captivating Live Album Roger Kellaway Live At Mezzrow, out May 17, 2024 via Cellar Music Group

Cellar Music Group and SmallsLIVE Foundation are excited to announce the May 17, 2024 release of Roger Kellaway Live At Mezzrow. This new live album celebrates the inimitable sound of an under-celebrated compositional master performing at the peak of his ability, over sixty years into a potent musical career. Recorded live at the iconic Mezzrow jazz club in New York City – pianist, composer and arranger Roger Kellaway conjures breath-taking musical imagery with selections from the songbooks of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn and more. Live at Mezzrow features an extraordinary lineup including Jay Leonhart on bass, Dennis Mackrel on drums, and special guest Roni Ben-Hur on guitar.

The greatest composers, arrangers and improvisers all share one major trait in common – they can tell a story. Either with their pen or with their axe, the very best of these three camps dig deep within to spill their personal truths in a way that audiences can relate to. Rarely does one come across an artist that is a true master in all three of these practices – however, such is the case with Roger Kellaway

Kellaway’s stellar output began in 1963 with his debut album A Portrait of Roger Kellaway. It continued with his many years as an arranger for a diverse ‘who’s who’ of musical luminaries including Melanie, Liza Minnelli, and Carmen McRae – his work as a sideman with such luminaries as George Harrison, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, and Kenny Burrell. Kellaway has recorded over 250 albums, and composed over 20 film scores (most notably for the 1976 adaptation of ‘A Star is Born’). 

Live At Mezzrow acts as a stunning document of Kellaway’s sound and musical sensibilities – undoubtedly shaped by his years as an arranger and film composer, his sound is lush, dynamic, and refreshingly cinematic. One can hear string and horn harmonies in his supple chord voicings and flute, saxophone or vocal melodies in his right hand. That is to say, Kellaway approaches the piano like an orchestra and each musical section as a movement. 

Kellaway remarks, “I felt so honored to have received the 2023 Living Masters award from the SmallsLIVE Foundation. This occasion gave me the opportunity to come East, and just kick back and play with my longtime colleague, Jay Leonhart on bass, and a musician I deeply admire (new to my trio) Dennis Mackrel on drums”. The pianist has, for the past twenty years, performed in a trio setting with bass and guitar – inspired by the great trios of Nat King Cole and Oscar Peterson. The bandleader notes “That requires everything to be arranged and lots of rehearsals”. The departure from that instrumentation for this release allows for more freedom from each of the musicians, which created the marked ease and conversational flow that are hallmarks of this album. Kellaway continues, “For repertoire, I decided to choose mostly historical jazz standards that I’ve always loved … I invited Guitarist Roni Ben-Hur to be my special guest, and I arranged two pieces written by Ettore Stratta; “Pages of Life” and  “Good Morning Bahia”.

From the timeless melodies of Miles Davis’s compositions to Kellaway’s original compositions like “All My Life,” each track on Live At Mezzrow exudes brilliance and creativity. The album culminates with a captivating rendition of Billy Strayhorn’s classic “Take the A Train,” a fitting conclusion to a mesmerizing musical journey taking place in New York City.

Roger Kellaway Live At Mezzrow is a testament to the artist’s enduring creativity and legacy as a truly masterful pianist, arranger, and composer – showcasing his unparalleled ability to captivate audiences.

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Track Listing:

  1. Try to Remember (3:08) – Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones,
  2. All Blues (10:08) – Miles Davis
  3. Blue in Green (7:42) – Bill Evans / Miles Davis
  4. Pages of Life (6:27) – Ettore Stratta
  5. Good Morning Bahia (10:29) – Ettore Stratta
  6. So What? (8:02) – Miles Davis
  7. All My Life (5:56) – Roger Kellaway
  1. Straight No Chaser (8:25) – Thelonious Monk
  2. Take the A Train (11:33) – Billy Strayhorn

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