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The Roger Kellaway Trio: Remembering Bobby Darin

The troubled production history of the Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea foretold disaster; it took Kevin Spacey to make that disaster a reality. Yet if another Hollywood dog was let loose, at least we got two deserving tie-ins out of the deal. A sequel to Roger Kellaway’s solo recital I Was There (the pianist was Darin’s musical director for a short but significant period), Remembering Bobby Darin again draws on the pop icon’s core repertoire, this time done up by a streamlined trio with the leader flanked by Bruce Forman’s guitar and Dan Lutz’s bass.

Darin’s fondness for quality standards puts the unit on safe ground; if adept jazzmen can’t find sparkle within the likes of “Mack the Knife,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light” and “Meditation,” they’re in the wrong business. At their best, the trio swings persuasively in the manner of the effervescent Nat Cole trio.

Kellaway also trots out his serious chops (catch his break on “I’ve Found a New Baby”) while, befitting a tribute, effectively keeping ego in check. Darin the rock ‘n’ roller gets his due on “Splish Splash,” albeit in a bitonal arrangement that allows the group to have some smart guy fun.

Originally Published