Roger Kellaway (featuring Stefon Harris): The Nearness of You


The Nearness of You


Roger Kellaway (piano)


Live at the Jazz Standard (IPO Recordings)

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Roger Kellaway (piano), Stefon Harris (vibes), Russell Malone (guitar), Jay Leonhart (bass).

Composed by Hoagy Carmichael


Recorded: The Jazz Standard, New York May 25-28, 2006


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

When a jazz pianist adds vibes and guitar to the band, comparisons with George Shearing will inevitably come to mind. But there are several strong individuals in this band, so there is little risk of Shearing redux on this 2006 recording from the Jazz Standard. Perhaps the biggest surprise here is Stefon Harris, who plays in a very tasty and traditional style. During the first few bars of the melody statement, I wondered whether this ensemble would find the right groove, but by the time we get to Harris's fine solo, the group's cohesion is admirable. Without a drummer on hand, the music sounds very exposed, but the players seem to take delight in a setting that allows them to bring the dynamic level down to a whisper. Russell Malone plays very little here, but everything he adds is premier cru. Kellaway shows off his pristine touch on his solo, but I especially like the way he comps behind Harris. Clearly chamber jazz is still alive and well in the new millennium.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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