Roger Kellaway

The Many Open Minds Of Roger Kellaway

There’s an inescapably pleasant air of nostalgia to this live album, recorded at Los Angeles’ Jazz Bakery in March and April 2006. Released in conjunction with Roger Kellaway’s 80th birthday on Nov. 1, 2019, the dispatch is an expertly delivered, hard-swung run at the classics.

In terms of expertise, the pianist has few peers. An L.A. fixture who served as music director for the likes of Elvis, Bobby Darin and Barbra Streisand, and composed the closing theme for All in the Family, Kellaway has been releasing jazz records since 1963. He’s in energetic form here, fronting a drumless trio: A take on Sonny Rollins’ “Doxy” is an early standout with the pianist’s cascading runs wittily punctuated by thumping chords from his left hand, before giving way to Bruce Forman’s crisp and nimble guitar ventures. Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” begins in a shadowy, spare framework that stakes out some distance from Dave Brubeck’s version, before Kellaway swings the melody back toward the light. With rewarding—if unsurprising—trips through “Night And Day” and a hard-driving “Caravan,” the set covers a lot of ground. But Kellaway and company dig in with care and a tastefully drawn sense of adventure. Plus, it’s hard to begrudge a look back when there’s still this much to see.