Duke at the Roadhouse: Live in Santa Fe

Jazz clarinetist Eddie Daniels’ latest collaboration with pianist Roger Kellaway is a fabulous tribute to late, great pianist/composer/bandleader Duke Ellington. Daniels—who also plays tenor saxophone on this stellar album—and Kellaway are joined by cellist James Holland. The CD opens with a 7-plus-minute version of “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” co-written by Ellington (and Don George, Johnny Hodges and Harry James). Kellaway and Daniels carry the tune to improvisationally creative heights, foreshadowing the captivating, quirky creativity they bust out on later tunes such as the coolest version of the Ellington standard (written by Juan Tizol) “Perdido” I’ve ever heard (featuring Holland’s skillful, beautiful cello-playing holding down the bottom, and a wonderful mid-song cadenza from Daniels). “Sophisticated Lady,” with Daniels featured on tenor sax, is highlighted by Kellaway’s sensitive, spare playing providing the perfect support. On “Creole Love Call” one can hear Daniels’ classical training shine through in the repeated low-to-high leaps he easily makes over the course of a string of notes. Daniels’ original, “Duke at the Roadhouse,” is a fun romp, and Kellaway’s “Duke in Ojai” showcases his very fine piano chops. An excellent reimagining of Ellington for a 21st-century audience.