Recorded at DIZZY’s jazz club in Melbourne in 2005, one of Melbourne’s top jazz venues, the musicianship on this album is outstanding.
Tracey Roberts performs with her jazz quartet (Lachlan Davidson – sax/flute), Gary Costello (double bass) and John Perri (on drums) – some of Australia’s finest musicians. As well as some popular jazz standards like “All of me” and “Autumn Leaves” there are a few cheeky original pieces – “Little Man” and “Night in Amsterdam”.
It’s a fun album, with sublime moments too, full of laughter and joy, capturing the energy and atmosphere only possible with a live performance.
CD review by John Hamilton
Tracey Roberts is a visual and performing creative artist.
She’ also a synesthete, she sees colours in response to music.
She quotes Wassily Kandinsky, artist, cellist and fellow synesthete, on her website: “Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings.
“The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul”.
Tracey is a piano player, a graphic designer and an illustrator.
She arranges community art projects and has created The Dome, a gallery of visual and performing art in The Patch, Victoria.
Here she displays themed artwork to accompany her music and stages live concerts.
I would encourage you to visit her very interesting website: https://traceyroberts.com.au/
Here, of course, we’re dealing with a live album recorded at a jazz club, with three other musicians, so we’re limited to the aura, unless you’re also a synesthete.
It’s smooth jazz, featuring piano, sax, flute, trumpet, double bass and drums.
Her piano is indeed the soul of the album, although the sax is its sensuous counterpart.
Apart from two original songs, Little Man and Night In Amsterdam, the songs are well known standards – Fly Me To The Moon, Love Me Or Leave Me, Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans, Blackbird/Bye Bye Blackbird, Autumn Leaves, Teach Me Tonight and All Of Me.
Tracey does introductions and the whole band sound as if they were energised and enjoying the gig.
How intensely you respond to this CD will depend on your answers to a number of questions.
Do you like jazz?
The American songbook?
Then there’s style preference, if you like the 1931 standard All of Me, do you prefer the rendition by Belle Barker, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Ray or Willie Nelson?
Do you prefer your standards as ballads, big band, gypsy jazz, or “modern” interpretations.
Personally, I love several versions of All Of Me, including the 1941 Billie holiday take, the slow 1932 Mildred Bailey and Paulk Whiteman orchestral opus, the Louis Armstrong takes (both the 1932 and 1956 incarnations) and the 1976 country-leaning Willie Nelson version.
I’m less partial to the brassy larger ensemble jazz standards and the syncopated modern jazz takes, like Kate Ceberano’s, and more drawn to the simple ravaged balladeer style, like Bob Dylan’s version of “All The Way”.
But that’s me.
What do you prefer?
Tracey and the band’s style here is “small band joyous”, so All Of Me gets mid-tempo pace, bounce, piano and trumpet treatment.
The collection moves between slow and mid-tempo renditions.
It would have been a lively, emotional and enjoyable concert.
Of the nine tunes here, my own preference is for the slower torch song like presentations, such as Do You Know what It Means To Miss New Orleans and Teach Me Tonight.
The latter has a dramatic smoky swagger and a compelling sax break.
But all the way through the collection, you can’t fault the smooth piano, sax and vocal delivery.