Judy Roberts

Circle of Friends

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This release from Judy Roberts, the superb Chicago-based pianist and singer, is full of classic interpretations and shot through with joyful energy. Her playing is consistently terrific and tasteful and, while her voice is a bit thin, her vocals are heartfelt, pitch-perfect, and swinging -- as is the band. The CD begins with blistering bop, featuring a contrapuntal tour de force piano/sax chorus with her husband, tenor saxman Greg Fishman, then moves through a multifaceted program of Ellingtonia and Brazilian tunes, including Sergio Mendez's beautiful "So Many Stars." Roberts' impeccable time is especially evident on "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me," when she's backed only by the fluid bass of Stewart Miller. There's also the witty Dave Frishberg gem "My Attorney Bernie" and "Twilight World," a haunting, rarely heard composition by Marian McPartland. The tempos and moods of this collection are nicely varied, and Fishman, whose tone and sensibility evoke Stan Getz, is outstanding throughout. Given her level of talent, Roberts is definitely underappreciated, but this CD is a good introduction to her singular gifts.

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