"It was a pure declaration of love to the music of the "hundred year old" Kurt Weill that the WDR Big Band offered the Cologne audience in glowing tones. The cooperative effort by Bill Dobbins as conductor of the Big Band and Roger Kellaway was a huge success. Kellaway is a virtuoso and an outstanding pianist and composer, able to bring these skills to his tasteful arrangements, giving them his personal stamp without at all violating Weill's music.

Music of the Last Years: The program centered around the music of Weill's last years. Weill, who had emigrated to the USA, adapted to the expectations of his new environment without losing his style, which had caused a sensation with the debut of "The Three Penny Opera" in 1928 in Berlin. As the seventeen members of the band, expanded by oboes, celli, percussion and accordion, expressed the flavor of the American songs, they were joined by guitarist Robben Ford, drummer Dennis Mackrel, and theater singer Anne Kerry Ford. Mainly in the beginning of the program, in songs like "I'm a Stranger Here Myself"("One Touch of Venus") or "Tschaicowsky" from "Lady in the Dark", she was the one who represented the American style completely with her vocals. Later in the show, in "Solomon's Song" and "Pirate Jenny", Anne Kerry Ford evoked the feeling and passion of "Three Penny Opera", as these arrangements were less musically stylized and closer to the "German" Weill.

The performers expressed the sentiment of Brecht/Weill with the boldly declared "Surabaya Johnny" ("Happy End") and delved into the wicked satire about the bourgeois in "Song of the Rhineland" from "Where do We Go From Here?", another song with which the performers identified brilliantly. The entire program, along with Ulrich Kurth's moderation, recieved the clearly expected and more than well-deserved ovation."


"Koelner Stadt Anziger", May 9th, 2000