A Duet of One

"These are some jaw-dropping duets by Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway recorded live at The Bakery in Los Angeles. Eddie and Roger have been collaborators on a number of projects over the years, including Eddie's Grammy-winning album, "Memos from Paradise." Their playing here is amazingly creative, completely spontaneous but together every step of the way, and a fascinating example of jazz collaboration at its very best. Paquito D'Rivera pays special tribute to Eddie in his liner notes for the release: "Eddie Daniels' use of articulation, tone quality, imagination, finesse, absolute control and exquisite technique makes him one of a kind. For my money, as a proud member of the elitist 'clarineters club' myself, I would dare to say that his enormous contribution to the almost extinct art of Jazz-clarineting is so significant, that now we can even talk about the instrument as BE and AE (Before Eddie and After Eddie)." Photography by the legendary William Claxton."

-- BillBoard

Clarinetist Eddie Daniels and pianist Roger Kellaway 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. When Daniels has played more commercially oriented music, he's branded a sellout, while Kellaway's profile is so low-key, he's practically off the radar except when releasing a recording. Fact is, Daniels is as limber, facile, tuneful, and literate as any clarinet player on the contemporary scene, while Kellaway's understated brilliance is balanced by a sense of wonder and empowerment tempered by a veteran's common sense and deep wisdom. Both have made important strides in recent years to change minds and hearts with several very fine efforts in the modern mainstream idiom, but these duets recorded live at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles have to be a high watermark for them, individually and together. All of the thin veils and veneers are torn down, as the two get to the meat and potatoes of these six standards and four originals, while also pulling out all the stops and digging into the main principle of jazz -- improvisation. No prior rehearsal and the use of basic charts as frameworks set this program apart from many others, as calculation is thrown out the window and standardized deviation is the new norm. This sense of taking poetic license and adopting reckless abandon is most evident on the counterpoint intro setting up the lengthy version of "I Want to Be Happy," a giddy, playful, even clownish derivation leading into spontaneous tempo changes and eventually a settled light swing. "After You've Gone" similarly reflects this sense of play in a fast improvised chase scenario, very much gone, made up on the spot, and truly fantastic. Cleverly interpreting Tomaso Albinoni on "Adagio Swing," the duo freely takes his theme liberally and literally to a developed modal arena quite unlike the Italian operatic Baroque original. "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" is bouncy off the bat, with the sprightly clarinet of Daniels and Kellaway's hopping piano both chock-full of soul. Kellaway's composition "This Is the Time" goes deep into the midnight-blue spectrum as a quirky stalking film noir dance that is more written and executed than made up. "Slow Dance" by Daniels and Hoagy Carmichael's "New Orleans" go to the softer side, the former handling the pristine end of understated romance, the latter a spacious and sentimental post-Katrina elegy. This is a wondrous duet date featuring extraordinary musicians taking chances and thankfully succeeding on all levels, not the least of which are in the enviable elements of pace, placement, and depth.

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