Roger Kellaway Cello Quartet

Center of the Circle

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Out to shock and surprise everyone who loved the Cello Quartet album, Roger Kellaway came up with this strange, often raucous, often brilliant, near-rock & roll follow-up to his earlier quiet breakthrough. But then, in the case of someone who was achieving a measure of fame at the time backing hit rock singles by Melanie ("Brand New Key") and playing the end credits music for the hit TV show All In the Family, one should have expected anything. For sheer dazzling fun, it's tough to beat "La Cookeria," a great rave-up full of big band riffs, Kellaway's barrelhouse piano, and fuzz-sustained, wah-wah rock guitar, or the hard-shufflin' "Our Gang Blues," or the fascinating, complex arrangement of the title track (a Melanie tune). Then for sheer chutzpah, there is "Lay Karma Lay," an exuberantly tasteless X-rated ode to carnal joys as presumably sung (?) by the pianist himself. As antidotal interludes to all of this flamboyance and foolishness, Kellaway continues his series of solo piano "On Your Mark, Get Set, Blues" set pieces from Cello Quartet with four more installments -- the first three in different vintage idioms, the fourth bringing things up to date. Perhaps this was a loopy Kellaway parody of how hit albums were made in 1972; in any case, unlike Cello Quartet, it has yet to find its cult.

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