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Roger Kellaway On Piano Jazz

Pianist, composer, conductor and arranger Roger Kellaway is known as a musical chameleon — an expression that reflects his diverse musical skills and his varied professional background. Though he began playing piano at an early age, Kellaway began his life in jazz as a bassist. He recalls having his father drive him to his first jazz gigs, where he played on a $150 three-quarter-sized bass.

After a few years at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied composition as well as bass and piano, Kellaway moved to New York and joined Jimmy McPartland's band. That's how he and Marian McPartland met for the first time.

After several years of gigging on bass, Kellaway returned to his first instrument, the piano, and began a fruitful career working as a sideman in New York for the likes of Clark Terry, Ben Webster, Maynard Ferguson and Sonny Rollins. An appointment as music director for comedian Jackie Leonard eventually brought Kellaway to the L.A. studio scene, where he functioned as a sideman, conductor and arranger. Here, Kellaway talks with McPartland about the job that followed, which proved to be one of his most significant — working as musical director for Bobby Darin.

Throughout his career, Kellaway has composed a wide variety of music, from his Academy Award-nominated film score for A Star Is Born to his best-known tune, "Remembering You." The title may not be immediately familiar, but fans of the '70s sitcom All in the Family will recognize the stride piano tune that accompanied the show's closing credits. He plays that familiar refrain before performing a free improvisation with McPartland. The two end the hour with a duet performance of "Cherry."

Originally recorded March 15, 2006.

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David Lyon