Roger Kellaway’s discography runs to more than two hundred and fifty albums. He’s worked with everyone from Ellington to Elvis, Dizzy Gillespie to Yo-Yo Ma, Joni Mitchell to Mancini and Quincy Jones to Michael Tilson Thomas.
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. His acclaimed “Cello Quartet” albums are described by some as “crossover”, “chamber jazz” and 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 Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony, the New American Orchestra and a concerto, “Songs of Ascent,” commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta, conductor. He wrote a variety of chamber works for Carnegie Hall performances and served as musical director for Stephane Grappelli’s 80th Birthday Tribute, which included Yo-Yo Ma’s first entry into Jazz. Later, Stephane, Yo-Yo and Roger traveled to Paris together. Kellaway played on and wrote all the arrangements for their album, “Anything Goes”.
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.