The real challenge when doing a jazz album is achieving a perfect mix of energy, group interaction and musicality. Katy Roberts' album Live A l'Archipel is a perfect case in point. Roberts succeeded to gather around her musicians with different strong personalities that contribute to the force in her statement. She has been living in Paris for fourteen years now. After studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, she performed for about twenty years, especially with saxophonist Franck Lacy, in the US and Europe.
Recorded live in Paris on July 2003 by sound engineer Alain Gandolfi, Live A l'Archipel consists of some well chosen standards ("Zoltan," "You Are Too Beautiful," "Lush Life," "Moontrune") and two Roberts compositions"Carol's Caprice" and "Oliver Missed The Spring," which Roberts wrote in memory of drummer Oliver Johnson. These compositions display Roberts' strong grounding in the styles of pianists such as McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and other innovative players.
Roberts displays advanced pianistic techniques and develops well-knit solos on "Moontrune" and "Zoltan," backed up by a creative tight rhythm section. Woodwind player Salim Washington and trumpeter Rasul Siddik develop typically energetic bebop solos on these tunes. The piano and saxophone duet on "You Are Too Beautiful" and "Lush Life" installs a warm ambience reinforced by Roberts' fine touch and musical sensitivity. Siddik plays the head to "Oliver Missed The Spring" on muted trumpet, punctuated by some sparse flute phrases which lead to a mournfully complete flute solo. The outcome is very charged emotionally.
The album closes with Lee Morgan's "Gigolo," on which the trumpet and sax weave very interesting countermelodies on the head, followed by a trumpet solo backed by Roberts' Tyner-esque harmonic and rhythmic comping. The drummer gives unity to the whole thing and supports the energy which emanates from the other musicians.
I have to say that Roberts' music gone through an obvious evolution since her earlier CD Katy Roberts Sextet recorded in May of 2002. The sound is fresh and overall, Live A l'Archipel is an innovative rendition of the tradition of bebop, hard bop, mainstream and some free jazz elements. I am waiting for more.
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