Roger Kellaway may well be described in one word; genius.
His avant garde approach to music as an arranger, pianist, serious artist, jazz giant, producer and composer is regarded in the music business as a fine talent.
Born in Waban, Mass, on Nov 1, 1939, Roger trained on classical piano from age seven through twelve years. While In junior school he learned to play string bass because of an overabundance of pianists in the school orchestra.
His training in classical piano repertoire was but the beginning of a continuing quest. Besides bass, Kellaway has played guitar, organ, clarinet, and prepared piano while studying composition at the New England Conservatory.
During and since that period he has engaged in extensive analysis of jazz styles, from Jelly Roll Morton to present-day players.
He has examined at length the work of concert composers through the ages and has taken a serious interest in the psychological implications of music and its effect on the listener.
Unlike most musicians, Kellaway concerns himself with all music, rather than a specific corner of it. Fired by self-perpetuating enthusiasm, he has been engaged since childhood in wide-ranging investigation of the differing musical languages, dialects, and forms.
Simultaneously, he has sought experience in numerous spheres of musical entertainment from playing stooge and pianist to the comedian Jack E Leonard, conductor and musical director for Bobby Darin, studying and playing East Indian music with the Hindustani Jazz Sextet with Hari Har Roi to composing for and soloing with the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra conducted by Stan Kenton.
While in New York he joined the Clark Terry-Bob Brookmeyer band playing piano, and played bass with such diverse bands as Jimmy McPartland and Ralph Marterie.
After Roger Kellaway made his playing debut on records it was, to say the least, an event. One critic stated "It is safe to say the world has never encountered a pianist like Roger Kellaway before. He is one of a handful of the most original modern improvisers".
Critical acclaim from major sources quickly followed:
The list of musical luminaries Kellaway has played with is too vast to cover in depth but a few are:
|*||Zoot Sims||*||Al Cohen||*||Oliver Nelson|
|*||Garry Puckett||*||Don Ellis||*||Lena Horn|
|*||Gabor Szabo||*||Mel Lewis||*||Pee Wee Russell|
|*||Ben Webster||*||J.J. Johnson||*||Kai Winding|
|*||Dave Grusin||*||Ruth Price||*||Shelly Manne|
|*||Wes Montgomery||*||Howard Roberts||*||Gil Evans|
|*||Peter Matz||*||Herb Ellis||*||Quncy Jones|
|*||Elmer Bernstein||*||Henry Mancini||*||Carmen McRae|
|*||Sarah Vaughn||*||Barney Kessel||*||Michele Le Grand|
|*||Count Bassie||*||Stan Getz||*||Morgana King|
|*||Michael Kollander||*||Andy Williams||*||Tony Bruno|
|*||Melanie||*||Brenda Patterson||*||Paul Horn|
Kellaway arrived in Los Angeles in 1966 with one purpose in mind, to compose and conduct his own music. One of the first assignments was writing for the Don Ellis 21-piece orchestra.
Playing with this group were Tom Scott and Chuck Domanico who were to become a part of the Roger Kellaway quartet soon after their meeting. This group recorded several albums.
Working more and more with orchestras his arranging abilities are apparent on Bobby Darin's "Dr. Doolittle" album and the Tony Bruno "I'm Feeling it Now" album. He has also arranged for Brenda Patterson and Melanie albums.
In 1968 Roger met George Trembly, prodigy of Arnold Schonberg. With him Roger is continuing to explore modern compositions with emphasis on 12-tone music and the spatial concepts of classical-modern composers Webern, John Cage, Edgar Varese and Karlheinz Stockhausen among others.
The scoring of the motion picture of George Plimton's best-selling novel, "The Paper Lion" opened a new phase in his meteoric career.
Television came next with Stanley Wilson of Universal Studios offering the opportunity to write the pilot film score for the series titled "The Psychiatrist".
In the classical mode he has been commissioned to write several pieces for the Los Angeles Brass Quintet and Symphony Orchestra and a work titled "Beaux J. Pooboo".
To Kellaway's credit can be added a prize commission by the New York City Ballet Company for him to write an original ballet, choreographed by George Ballanchine, premiered at the Lincoln Centre in New York.
For his first album for A & M Records Kellaway used his cello quartet augmented by a 38-piece orchestra. (Produced by Stephan Goldman, producer of Pacific Gas & Electric, a rock group, and Gary Puckett.)
Featured players are Edgar Lustgarten, cello; Chuck Domanico, bas; Emil Richards, percussion and Kellaway, piano.