Judy Roberts

In the Moment

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Coming off a very successful collaboration with fellow Chicagoan Jackie Allen, pianist/vocalist Judy Roberts has issued another in a long line of well-received CDs as a leader. Roberts is in good company as a vocalist who also does her own piano work. Other illustrious members of that sorority include Jeri Southern, Carmen McRae, and Nancy Marano and Diana Krall. The play list is a varied one with originals, standards, and some very interesting offbeat material. All are delivered by Roberts, recalling Blossom Dearie, although less feathery, and the late, great Irene Kral. The quartet setting fits Roberts well in that it provides a proper backdrop to display her not-insignificant piano endowment. She is fortunate to have solid jazz performers in her group. Greg Fishman's seductive sax is heard to good effect on one of the classic smoky bar songs, "I Keep Going to Back to Joe's," and his flute is heard on the Jobim bossa nova "Double Rainbow." Not all the cuts have a vocal. "On and On and On," an intense slice of music, showcases the quartet in strictly an instrumental setting, as does "I Love Lucy." Fishman and Roberts turned the theme of one of TV's most popular sitcoms into a ballad to commemorate drummer George Marsh's daughter. Roberts is not afraid to take on challenging material, as she demonstrates with Charles Lloyd's daunting "Sweet Georgia Bright," replete with jagged rhythms and off-center harmonics. Here Fishman sets aside his soulful sax to take up the cudgel of a hard bop master. This track also features in the center-of-the-bulls-eye drum breaks by Marsh. In the Moment, which offers a wide swath of material smartly arranged and played, is highly recommended.

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