Judy Roberts and Jackie Allen: Autumn Leaves
Pianist and vocalist Judy Roberts is a major attraction on the Chicago and international music scene. She is loved in Chicago and her following is legendary. She never fails to engage the audience with her music. By the time her set is over Judy has become your best friend. Vocalist Jackie Allen, initially from Milwaukee, has been thrilling audiences in Chicago for the more than the last decade. There are not many precedents for a duet of two jazz divas with piano. But this does not really matter, this release overflows with all of the elements of great music: originality, style, wit and world-class performances.
Robert's piano is the band. She covers every mood with great harmony, fine voicings, tasteful and appropriate comping, and an occasional left-hand bass line that swings hard. Best of all, the subtlety of her playing in tandem with the nice arrangements, will satisfy any listener. Although a vocal oriented release, we get a fine sample of Roberts' solo piano on Monk's Mysterioso before segueing to 'Round Midnight.
Jackie Allen always sings the right stuff at the correct moment. Her intonation is right on and she conveys great emotion without screaming at us. Check her good use of counterpoint on the title track, while Roberts sings in French. Her approach to ballads is exquisite and her great sense of swing and scat is not be overlooked.
Vocalist Roberts is a national treasure. She sells the tune on a personal level, scats with the best and brings humor and fun to every performance. When you hear Tadd Dameron's If You Could See Me Now you feel that she is singing only to you.
Together, Roberts and Allen are nearly unbeatable in unison, soloing, scatting and undoubtedly having a wonderful time. Join them at their weekly Wednesday date at Philander's in suburban Oak Park or anywhere they play throughout the world.-MV