Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Uncluttered, exploratory standards playing
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 05/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The instrumentation here--Ruby Braff on cornet, Roger Kellaway on piano--harks back to the classic "Weatherbird", an Armstrong-Hines duo from the 1920s. But the sensibility here is absolutely modern. Kellaway's playing shows a deep grasp of stride piano style, but also demonstrates his always adventurous harmonic sensibility, obtaining bluesy effects through polytonality or dissonance. Braff similarly is happy to follow his ear & ignore the chords when the melody leads him elsewhere. Those who expect a comfortable tour through standards like "Basin Street Blues", "I Got Rhythm" & "Memories of You" will be startled by these relaxed but alert readings, in which not a bar or gesture is wasted--even the theme-statements are freshly reinvigorated.One feature of this recording perhaps calls for comment: the extraordinarily intelligent & various use of musical quotation. I've become rather allergic to quotation since seeing Jessica Williams fritter away an evening with incessant & often mindless quotes a few years back (quoting "Bye Bye Blackbird" three times within two sets was the nadir); & one can get tired too of the boppers' codified use of the same half-dozen quotes ("Country Gardens", the _Grand Canyon Suite_, the "Irish Washerwoman", _Carmen_, &c.). So it's truly gratifying for the practice to be so freshly used here. Partly it's because the quotes are delivered almost subliminally--often more hinted-at than stated, & when stated only given in the briefest of snippets, stitched into a longer melodic line, as when Braff merely pauses for a moment within a string of notes during "Memories of You" to insert a phrase from the bridge to "The Song Is You". Most importantly, it's because the quotes aren't simply there as external references (or intended to be funny) but as thematic material, available for variation & reworking. Oddly enough, the closest parallel I can think of for this aspect of the album is Ran Blake, whose tribute projects (like his superb & sadly out of print Gershwin album on Hat Art, _That Certain Feeling_) are packed with tiny allusions that are often surprisingly hard to place: though Blake is infinitely the more abrasive pianist, Kellaway is in many ways a comparable figure in his use of a polytonality deriving from his serious knowledge of 20th-c. classical music, but turned into entirely idiomatic jazz._Inside & Out_ is an album both beautiful to listen to--I've certainly made it sound much more formidable than it is, as it's simply one of the most gorgeous things in the Concord catalogue--& intellectually satisfying. Required listening."