If I Could Be with You

Marcus Roberts

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If I Could Be with You Review

by Scott Yanow

This is one of Marcus Roberts' finest all-around recordings. The set of solo piano improvisations features Roberts performing many older tunes (including "Maple Leaf Rag" and four James P. Johnson tunes) plus some of his originals, showing off his stride technique. Roberts' right hand borders on the miraculous, while his left often breaks up rhythms, jumping one beat ahead or behind purposely for short stretches and adding tension to the performance. Among the CD's highlights are "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," "Carolina Shout," "Keep Off the Grass," "What Is This Thing Called Love," and Roberts' "Preach, Reverend, Preach."

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