Westwood Song, by David Hicks


Westwood Song, Composed by Roger Kellaway

Zachariah Spellman, Tuba, and Karen Hutchinson, Piano

My music pick for this month is a piece of jazz music composed in 1975 but not published until 1985 and never recorded in its entirety (20 plus minutes) until just this year. You may have heard an 11 minute and 30 second version of the piece, recorded (1979) by Roger Bobo with Roger Kellaway on piano, but this is the first recording of the work in its entirety.

Originally, so the story goes, Westwood Song was first played as an improvisation of chords with several musicians at a club somewhere in the Westwood area near U.C.L.A.. A few years later, after Roger Bobo and Roger Kellaway recorded their duet
version on Roger Bobo’s LP, “Gravity Is Light Today”, Kellaway’s publishing company sent him notice that he needed to submit sheet music for the work, which he eventually did. The submitted score, though lengthier than the LP version, was also very light on details about how the piece should be played, with notations such as “ad lib: with love”, leaving the musicians to liberally find their own interpretation. Of course, there is a story to Roger Kellaway’s inspiration for creating and composing the piece. Alas, that story is not mine to tell. But, if you listen, perhaps you will glimpse some of the tale in
the music?

I talked to Zachariah Spellman about the original version but he had been unaware of it until I sent him a copy of the recording. After listening to it, he responded that, at least, now he knows that he and Karen Hutchinson were very similar in their interpretation to the original, abbreviated version. I think of the two versions as I think of the two differing length versions of The Doors, Light My Fire. Unless you happen to be restricted by time, as DJ’s were, due to the popular radio stations being loathe to play anything over 3-minutes in length, go for listening to the complete piece!

You can check out the 1979 version on Qobuz or Amazon Music, and perhaps elsewhere, as it was recorded on Bobo’s album. But I recommend that you ignore that idea until after you’ve checked out the full-length version. The pieces are similar, but for me, the abbreviated version sounds incomplete, and not just at the end. I may be prejudiced only because I heard the lengthier version first. Let me know if you feel otherwise if you listen in the reverse order to how I listened.

You can download the lengthier version I’m recommending here from the digitalvictrola.com website. You’ll be given the option to purchase the work as a downloadable file at 320k mp3, or as a high rez 96/24 file (a somewhat more complicated process is required), or shipped to you as a CD. The recording was captured and mastered by recording engineer, Eric Wayne, and I can attest that the 96/24 version sounds very good on my systems, and the mp3 version was, for an mp3
file, quite acceptable as well.

digitalvictrola.com for your orders-

San Francisco Audiophile Society

San Francisco Audiophile Society