Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Live album of the week: Roger Kellaway, Live at Mezzrow, Cellar Live ****

While an instant classic - fact - unlike Gradgrind in Charles Dickens' Hard Times, whom, dearly befuddled, we are of course satirising not holding up as a guru, there is nothing grim nor overly anal about the approach of this recording made at tiny …

Published: 29 May 2024. Updated: 51 days.

While an instant classic - fact - unlike Gradgrind in Charles Dickens' Hard Times, whom, dearly befuddled, we are of course satirising not holding up as a guru, there is nothing grim nor overly anal about the approach of this recording made at tiny Greenwich Village, New York, jazz club Mezzrow.

A place named lovingly after fabulous clarinettist Milton 'Mezz' Mesirow, co-author as Mezz Mezzrow of the classic 1940s jazz memoir Really the Blues, afternotes ring and dance in the air and instantly burn themselves decaying somehow aurally on the mind's eye.

Kellaway is of course a master. He does not need nor indeed crave you'd guess reviews. But you perhaps do given media tumbleweed. Most of the so-called quality mass market press won't even agree to know about let alone deign to acknowledge let alone review such an instant classic.

You get rather than TikTok squeezes de nos jours that the culture desk might want to allot zillions of column inches to, repertoire immersed in the world of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Billy Strayhorn - and Kellaway who to us on 'All Blues' comes over as much Kenny Werner-like as he does Bill Evans - yes it's that kind of calibre - who is with stalwart double bassist Jay Leonhart, wonderfully softly introducing his lines on 'Blue in Green,' and the great drummer Dennis Mackrel - with Leonhart on 1990s album Two Lane Highways - who rustles up lots of treats plus guitarist Roni Ben-Hur, a d'Artagnan to these three Mezzkateers as a guest.

More music in him than Heinz has pickles

Tracks are a very unMantovani-like treatment, ergo no-strings-attached, treatment of 'Try To Remember,' 'All Blues,' 'Blue In Green,' 'Pages Of Life,' 'Good Morning Bahia,' 'So What,' 'All My Life,' 'Straight No Chaser' and a fabulous 'Take The 'A' Train' the best of all. Hear the way Kellaway leans into it. The album was recorded in early-May last year.

Accompanist to the crème de la crème of show and musicbiz royalty down the years whether Liza Minnelli or Carmen McRae, Kellaway, now 84, played on and was bandleader for Van Morrison's live recreation of his classic Astral Weeks at the Hollywood Bowl recorded in 2008.

Kellaway's own piece 'All My Life' along with the luminous take on Sweet Pea's '''A'' Train' are our pick of what is a marvellous album, aha, for a moondance. But seriously, and there are no fears of bothering the plod with some impromptu alfresco terpsichore at all given how civilised this all is, proper live albums - meaning nothing to do with simply documentation but ones that capture a place, a feeling, a lost-in-time set of circumstances, a spirit - raise the bar high and this is a fine example of the genre.

This newly released recording - given the candid intimacy and spaciousness that are its superpowers - tops even Kellaway's 2008 fine recording Live at the Jazz Standard on which 'All My Life' also appears - a sumptuous chamber jazz treatment that time around nevertheless, which featured a beautiful cello line and the magical input of guitar great Russell Malone.

Live at Mezzrow reaches new heights of small club live action piano trio-plus veritas and puts the Spike Wilner-run venue even more on the map as a venue for live recording than hitherto. Feel free to apply this quip of Mezz Mezzrow's to Kellaway because he clearly to our great benefit has ''more music in him than Heinz has pickles.''

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Highworth jazz all-dayer this Saturday

''Lifelong music lover'' Martin Wellstead heading a committee that includes The Mid-West baritone saxist Ray Stephens of local firm Reuben Digital and Darren Arthurs have put together a packed line-up for the inaugural Highworth Jazz Festival - an …

Published: 29 May 2024. Updated: 51 days.

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''Lifelong music lover'' Martin Wellstead heading a committee that includes The Mid-West baritone saxist Ray Stephens of local firm Reuben Digital and Darren Arthurs have put together a packed line-up for the inaugural Highworth Jazz Festival - an all-dayer to be held in the small Wiltshire town of Highworth 6 miles from Swindon on Saturday.

Acts include Kim Cypher, the Simon Spillett Big Band, Marvin Muoneké, Alex Merritt, Guido Spannocchi, Alex Goodyear Trio, Roger Beaujolais Band, Jonathan Mayer, Fleur Stevenson, Mid-West Swing Band and Marco Marconi. The festival is to make use of 5 venues dotted around the High Street - the medieval St Michael’s and All Angels church, Highworth hotel, United Reform church, Market Square podium and The Wine Bar - the festival organisers have arranged for gigs to begin at 2pm to run through until 11pm. Kim Cypher, photo: publicity shot. Full info. Ticket link.