Duke at the Roadhouse
1966 was a big year for me. I was asked to join the Thad Jones- Mel Lewis orchestra and was thrust onto the American Jazz scene playing at the Village Vanguard every Monday night. There I was, playing with some of my own idols…….Pepper Adams, Hank Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, Snooky Young, Roland Hanna, Jerome Richardson………..it totally changed my world!
Towards the spring of that year I was asked to play at a jam session with Duke Ellington. It was a small restaurant-bar in Greenwich Village. I walked in and there was Duke at the piano and people saying to me “Get up there and play Eddie”. There was no rhythm section….just the 2 of us….wow! and some other musicians in the wings waiting to get a chance. It was such fun to see Duke turn his head towards me and give me that big smile while I was playing. What an experience… indelible marks that last forever.
Fast forward 56 years to last October 2012 in Santa Fe New Mexico, those indelible marks having helped carve a career for me that I always will be thankful for, I was asked to perform at a benefit concert by a group called “New Mexico Center for Therapeutic Riding”, which helps young people with disabilities while working with horses. The concert was to be held at the Lensic Theater. I immediately decided that the music should be Duke’s and chose Roger Kellaway as my collaborator! Since Roger and I had already recorded 2 albums as a duo for IPO records…… “A Duet of One” and “Live at the Library of Congress” …….. and given the idea of Duke’s music, I thought that adding a cello to our duo would add a richness to the music. Roger, being a “Cellophile”, known for his “Cello Quartets” albums, jumped on it!
I then suggested to Roger that we each write an original tune dedicated to Duke….Roger’s is called “Duke in Ojai” and mine being “Duke at the Roadhouse”, the latter being named after Harry’s Roadhouse in Santa Fe, which bustles with Duke’s musical energy and greatly reminds me of that place in the Village where I had my indelible “Duke” experience. Also part of our benefit concert was a painting donated by the legendary Native American artist Doug Coffin. The cover of this album “Duke At The Roadhouse” was done by Doug as he listened to the final mixes of this live concert. He truly is part of the band.
My special thanks to Roger, who is so much fun to play with, Morrie Backun, who made my clarinet, the Lensic Theater, The New Mexico Center for Therapeutic Riding, Doug Coffin for being part of the interplay, cellist James Holland, and IPO’s Bill Sorin, who records music that he loves and is passionate about. Enjoy!!!
Partnering with one of the world’s great clarinetists is challenging. But, after more than 25 years, it’s also musically quite rewarding ! For this Santa Fe CD, Eddie suggested adding Cello And, because of my passion for the Cello [beginning with the A&M recording of “The Roger Kelllaway Cello Quartet” 42 years ago], I was delighted.
As with all of my Cello writing, everything is written out—–even the Jazz solos. Therefore it becomes necessary for the Cellist to have some knowledge of Jazz phrasing in order to have the Jazz solos sound like improvisations. James Holland said, “yes” to this challenge. Once again, I’m delighted.