The Sky Could Send You
How appropriate that San Francisco-based Sherri Roberts opens her latest disc (the first for her own Pacific Jazz offshoot, Blue House) with Bobby Troup’s “You’re Looking at Me.” For, stylistically, Roberts bears a significant resemblance to the recently deceased Mrs. Troup, gin ’n’ satin seductress Julie London. But where London’s voice was pale and distant as a winter moon, Roberts’ is all dappled sunshine, particularly when she eases into the butter-soft Latin groove that defines more than half the album’s tracks.
Working alongside such simpatico giants as saxophonist Phil Woods, trumpeter Lew Soloff, guitarist John Hart and bassist Harvie S (who doubles as her coproducer), Roberts plucks some delectable plums, including the warmly optimistic “Tell Me My Name” from Roger Kellaway and Gene Lees, Jobim’s grandly passionate “Por Toda Minha Vida” and, traversed with shimmering delicacy, Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress.” (Dimitri Tiomkin’s pedestrian “Return to Paradise” might, however, have been better left to wither on the vine.) But Roberts’ cleverness is best demonstrated in a nakedly sensuous vocal-bass treatment of “Do It the Hard Way,” with a keenly-crafted vocalese interlude inspired by Chet Baker. Enchanting.