Judy Roberts

Judy Roberts Band

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Coming from Chicago, keyboardist and singer Judy Roberts splashed onto the national scene via this recording done in Wisconsin with her own band. Showcasing only two of her own compositions, what Roberts does display is a vocal component similar to Flora Purim, while using many different electric pianos in a manner synonymous with Chick Corea. Therefore, this band has a sound quite familiar to fans of the first Return to Forever, not so much in the Brazilian mode as it is R&B-oriented, removed from mainstream jazz. The RTF factor is clear and present in tunes like the funky and spacy "Never Was Love"; "You Light Up My Life" in a samba pop vein (but not a cover of the Debby Boone hit that came afterwards); and her tune "Watercolors," with evocative cascading keyboard waves and upper-register vocal flights referring to sipping wine and chillin'. "Dandelion" is the other track Roberts claims as her own, a spare, plucked flower of a tune with wordless vocals derived directly from Purim's influence. The cover tunes include the slow, late-night derivation of Leon Russell's "Fantasy" and a much more effective, convincing take on "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's lyrics relating to the life and times of Lester Young. Electric bass guitarist Sean Silverman contributed the obvious finger-popping "Thumbs," which is ultimately redundant and similar to the music of Stuff, while guitarist Neal Seroka brings "Yes Indeed" to the repertoire -- an energetic hard funk à la George Duke, and not bad considering that the acoustic piano of Roberts gives a small taste of what she can do on that instrument, even though unison lines from the plectrist and synthesist dominate the track. Ultimately, this music is not the strong suit of Roberts, though it is a beginning for her in an era when this music was prevalent, but now sounds dated.

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