"Kelly and Elfman are two musicians with great imagination and good music
will continue to provide cutting edge", Luis Raul Montell-Jazz Global Beat
Neil Kelly / Robby Elfman
Tracks: 1. Stylus; 2. Flowers in the Fossils; 3. Moon River; 4. Ugh the Thug; 5. Inner Mission; 6. Julia; 7. Anybody in There; 8. Landscape
Neil Kelly (guitar); Robby Elfman (sax); Lukas Vesely (upright bass); Joe DeRose (drums)
The Neil Kelly / Robby Elfman quartet started as a meeting of minds at the Playa Jazz Café, a jazz based theme camp that appears annually at the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock City Nevada. This camp entails a collective of SF Bay area and LA based jazz musicians who come together to perform concerts, host jam sessions, and provide educational workshops throughout the week of the Burning man Festival.
Kelly and Elfman were encouraged to forge collaboration when sound man/producer Ken Deloria saw them perform on the playa. Robby originally from LA relocated to North Bay San Francisco and he and Neil began co-writing the album “In Roads”.
What transpired was a mixture of Elfman’s edgy punk style jazz (his first record project Smashups recorded with the Jazz Punks bears witness to this aesthetic), with the modern Jazz lush harmonies witnessed on Kelly’s premier album Rivers Converge. Both musicians approach jazz from a composer’s perspective. Elfman holds a degree in Film Score Compositon from USC and Kelly a Master’s Degree from SJSU in Jazz composition and arranging. Teaming up with bay area all star rhythm section of Lukas Vesely and Joe Derose a unique sound and approach to music was created and is now being unveiled.
Rare moments of musical genius emerge when an ensemble finds that certain magic, that willingness to reach for the stars with nothing held back, no fears, just pouring out pure music. Moving, powerful, delightful, soothing, captivatingly pure music! When you hear it, you know you’ve experienced a profound difference when music comes from the core of a players’ being. This album is precisely that: pure music and pure heart from the deepest possible source.
Neal Kelly on guitar and Robby Elfman on sax are players of the highest caliber. They possess the technical chops, to be sure, but far beyond that they have something to say, musically speaking. The fluidity and ease with which they command their instruments must be heard, and heard again, and heard again. Their creative rhythms and instrumental harmonies reveal greater and greater depth with each new listen. This is an album to be played often; this is an album to be cherished.
The ensemble hits high gear on these (audiophile grade) recordings1. Performed in an intimate studio setting in Silicon Valley, the tracks have the unmistakable feel of four master jazzmen who love working together...and do so seamlessly to the delight of the listener.
Lucas Vesely occasional use of sound effects on the bass give some up-tempo tracks a distinct ‘fusion’ quality that eggs on the guitar and sax to match his intensity. And that’s exactly what they do.
Joe De Rose drumming forms the groove that incite the others to bond together under his rhythmic mastery. He skillfully takes the listener from a ‘lazy’ beat, such as Moon River and Julia, to driving, exciting percussive motion on the original compositions. Joe listens and complements the other three, especially while they’re soloing, fitting in where there’s space, and laying back when there’s not.
This album represents a major milestone in today’s world of contemporary ensemble jazz. It will transport you to a new plane of rhythmic and melodic enjoyment.
Neil Kelly is a Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Arranger / and Band Leader who has been working in the greater San Francisco Bay area for the past 10 years. Originally from the East Coast and Chicago Neil arrived in California in 1992. Since that time he has devoted his life to the craft of music.
He holds a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from San Jose State University where he majored in Jazz composition and arranging. He received the award for outstanding Graduate Student of the 2009 graduating class from the Department of Music and Dance.
Neil’s original composition “Threshold,” and “All the Things We Were,” orchestrated for Big band, were winning compositions for the San Jose Jazz Society’s Local Composer’s Showcase of 2009 and 2010
Neil is one of the founding members of the Playa Jazz Cafe, a collective of jazz musicians from LA and the bay area who bring a Jazz theme camp to Burning man each year since 2003. The Jazz Café hosts nightly jam sessions, daily educational workshops, and formal concerts throughout the week where players from all over the world converge to create art and music.
He has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Summer Fest. He has shared the stage with Bobby Shew, Chris Amberger, and countless others.
Neil’s debut CD “Rivers Converge” (2010) features his compositional talents in a quartet setting and received critical acclaim upon its release.
His second outing “In Roads” (2015) is a collaboration with saxophonist / composer Robby Elfman and takes the modern vision and exploratory sounds to a new level.
Robby Elfman is a graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music (2003) with a Bachelor’s degree in music composition. He was the recipient of the Joe and Alice Harnell Scholarship, the Silvia Grancel Endowed Music Scholarship, the Michael Kamen Scholarship through the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, and the BMI Scholarship for music for film and television.
While attending USC he had new music compositions premiered by local L.A. groups such as The Capitol Ensemble, the Donald Novakowsky Foundation, and the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony. He also wrote the music for several short films and documentaries, including the award-winning “Pharaoh’s Streets”, which received recognition at the Silverlake Film Festival in 2002. In 2004, Robby was one of fifteen composers selected to attend the prestigious ASCAP Summer Film Scoring Workshop.
In 2009 and 2010 Robby had two original compositions premiered in New York, as part of the “Detour” concert series featuring the work of new composers. In 2012 he composed the original score for the short film “Private War”, which was shown at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. In 2013 Robby was hired to compose the entire news theme music package for San Diego’s local CBS affiliate KFMB News 8.
In addition to composing music, Robby is also a professional instrumentalist, recording saxophone and clarinet for film and TV scores, radio and TV commercial spots, and rock/pop albums. In 1999, he won the coveted Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award for his jazz performance on the tenor saxophone at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. He was the 2nd chair clarinetist of the L.A. Jewish Symphony from 2002-2012, and the tenor saxophonist for the L.A. jazz quintet, Jazz Punks, who recorded their debut album Smashups in 2011.
Robby now lives in the Bay Area, where he performs regularly with several different bands and continues to compose music for film, television and the concert stage.
"Moon River" is an original composition by Henry Mancini, but we will hear the version that make Kelly / Elfman, this song is part of "In Roads" ... enjoy it: