Bringing to the E Spot the music and songs that won the French equivalent of a Grammy for their Duke at the Roadhouse album, Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway gave tribute to the sounds and inspirations of Mr. Ellington while displaying his compositions in a way that would have made the master nod in approval.
When on tenor sax, Daniels weaved and bobbed between Kellaways musical jabs on a free flowing round on “UMMG” while on a solo read of “They Say It’s Wonderful” Daniels’ filled the room with a majestic aria mixing the warmth of bel canto and the fervor of a Rossini overture. Switching to clarinet, Daniels displayed his joy and flexibility as he and Kellaway went back and forth like a singles tournament on “I Want To Be Happy” where they would deliver unison lines and then give each other a moment in the spotlight. A take of “ Creole Love Call” had Daniels’ ebullient and alarmingly clear tone moan and cry, cutting like a Spyderco knife while Kellaway rumbled and gurgled like a rolling rive.
Extra texture was added when cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith joined the stage to add swaying and longlingly lithe lines to a rapturous read of “In A Sentimental Mood” that perfectly captured the nostalgia of the piece. A rich “Mood Indigo” had the three bring out various hues of blue while Kellaway’s own “Mostly On A D String” was highlighted by the pianist’s patented bluesy stride, Daniels’ whimsical lyricism and Freebairn-Smith’s sighing bow. All through the evening, Kellaway and Daniels formed the perfect team, with the former’s patented style of sounding like he’s auditioning for a saloon scene in a James Stewart western and Daniels mixing visions of modern classical and classic swing, teaming up superbly as on “Duke In Ojai.” The melding of tenor sax and cello together on a Mozartian version of “In A Mellotone” created a rich creamy sonic sauce that would make any French chef jealous.
By the time they closed with a prismatic “Perdido” and a bouncing ballet of “Just Friends,” Daniels and Kellaway confirmed that the Galls and Huguenots may have more appreciation and knowledge our America’s classical music than its own creators.
On a side note, the recently renovated E Spot has some of the best acoustics anywhere, and because the musicians didn’t even need microphones to perform, the warmth of the sound created by the artists was palpable.
Upcoming shows include Elliott Caine 06-11, Nancy Harms 06-18 and Aaron Blulmenthal 07-10