Roger Kellaway – Grammy Award winner and Academy Award nominated Pianist/Composer, has recorded more than 250 albums. He’s worked with everyone from Ellington to Elvis, Joni Mitchell to Barbra Streisand, and Quincy Jones to Yo-Yo Ma.
Kellaway is not only a major pianist, he is a composer of protean ability, writing in the music fields of jazz, classical and “pop”, also scoring for films and television. Some as “crossover”, “chamber jazz” and describes Roger’s acclaimed “Cello Quartet” albums by others as the beginning of “New Age” music. They were the first in an eclectic array of projects beginning in the 1960’s. Roger’s commissions include a ballet for George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet, orchestral pieces for the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony, the New American Orchestra, and a variety of chamber works for Carnegie Hall.
Roger fell in love with the piano at the age of 7 and began studying. By the time he was 12, he was already listening equally to jazz and classical music and decided that he wanted to spend his life in music. He attended Newton High School, at that time ranked the number three high school in the United States, studying college level music theory and playing double bass and percussion in the school orchestra, performing works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach. (Meanwhile, he was playing bass in an extracurricular jazz band.) From high school, he went on to the New England Conservatory where he studied piano, double bass, and composition. After two years at the conservatory he left to go on the road, playing bass. In 1960, he settled in New York City and began freelancing on piano. By the age of 22, he was one of the busiest and most highly respected pianists in New York, playing record dates, jazz clubs, and working with singers such as Lena Horne. His favorite recordings during that period were with Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery, Oliver Nelson, Ben Webster, Clark Terry & Bob Brookmeyer.
In the mid ’60′s Kellaway moved to Los Angeles to continue doing studio work, which soon included playing on and then writing film scores. Writing songs and arrangements is a passion that sometimes expands into producing, as was the case for the Carmen McRae album, “I Am Music”. The relationship had started with Roger’s song “I Have The Feeling I’ve Been Here Before”, written especially for her, with a lyric by the legendary team, Alan & Marilyn Bergman.
Kellaway’s most prized television credit is, “Remembering You”, the closing theme for the groundbreaking, “All in the Family”. Composed in 1970, it is still being heard on TV around the world. He has written (and conducted) twenty-nine film scores including Barbara Streisand’s “A Star Is Born”, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. He was honored with a Grammy Award for his music on the album “Memos From Paradise” for Eddie Daniels. He also received the Prix du Jazz Classique (the French “Grammy”) for his CD “Heroes”, dedicated to Oscar Peterson.
Roger and Eddie Daniels have continued to work together throughout the years – playing Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center, San Francisco Jazz, Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Detroit Jazz Festival. Their CD’s include 2011’s acclaimed “Live at the Library of Congress” and “Duke At The Roadhouse – Live in Santa Fe”; his third duo CD with Eddie, which won the Grand Prix du Jazz (Record Of The Year) in 2014.
Kellaway’s continuing eclectic career includes: composing the music for London’s West End production of “Lenny” starring Eddie Izzard, directed by Sir Peter Hall. Conducting: the world premiere of Sir Paul McCartney’s “Nova” in Buenos Aires with The Youth Orchestra of the Americas”, also conducting and orchestrating the music for Clint Eastwood’s film, INVICTUS. Kellaway served as Musical Director for Bobby Darin beginning in 1967, and in 1968 arranged (and conducted) Darin’s album of songs from the film “Dr. Doolittle”. He was also Musical Director at Carnegie Hall for a “Tribute To Oscar Peterson”, and Stephane Grappelli’s 80th Birthday Tribute, which included Yo-Yo Ma’s first entry into Jazz. Later for Tony Bennett and then Van Morrison for the classic “Astral Weeks” live performance/recording (CD/DVD) at the Hollywood Bowl.
“Visions Of America” – his orchestral, multimedia portrait of Democracy, is a “Photo-Symphony” for full orchestra, commissioned by renowned photographer, Joseph Sohm. The show featured five songs with lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Kellaway on jazz piano, a chorus of twenty-four singers, plus Patti Austin, Judith Hill & Steve Tyrell as soloists. It was first performed by the Philly Pops (Peter Nero conducting), then for a summer series with the Boston Pops, and most recently by the New West Symphony.
Kellaway is currently busier than ever. He’s recorded another Trio CD – “New Jazz Standards”, which is receiving great reviews! His most recent commission, “Many Moods Of McCartney”, a performance piece for two pianos, bass and drums is a 30 minute Jazz exploration of ten songs by Sir Paul McCartney, and was premiered to standing ovations at an Ashville Symphony concert; later in NYC and Los Angeles. Roger will celebrate his 82nd birthday this November.