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January/February 2002

Marcus Roberts Trio
Cole After Midnight
Columbia Jazz

Cole After Midnight (Columbia CK 69781: 65:23) finds the Marcus Roberts trio essaying music of Cole Porter and Nat Cole. The accent here is much more on "mood" than "move," with a concomitant emphasis on Nat Cole the singer, rather than his trio work-and more's the pity. There is, in truth, much to admire in Roberts' building tension through slow, relaxed tempi, and the musicality of these performances is high. The proceedings do perk up occasionally: bassist Thaddeus Expose, for example, has a nice run at the theme of "It's Only a Paper Moon," and the title track runs hot. Most of the bass contributions come from Roland Guerin, while Jason Marsalis gives up the drum chair on one track to Leon Anderson. This has the feel of a recording made to serve the label, not the artist. I'd like to hear something from this pianist that carries a bit more creative weight.

Originally published in January/February 2002
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