March 1997

Roger Smith
My Colors
JVC Disc America

Keyboardist Roger Smith couches his reverence for the classics in a mostly progressive setting on My Colors (JVC-2063-2; 62:20). Starting with the romp "Miss Wiggle (So What!)," which threads George Duke and Miles Davis compositions with a whacking percussion section and an undertone of party noise, Smith fills his album with unexpected combinations. While "Fallin' Behind" pits Smith's fleet-fingered, spiraling piano work against piercing guitar stingers and a busy funk background, "Hopscotch" offers deep, grimy distortion bass against a classy, straight up sax melody and piano chordings. Even Colors' less inventive moments ("Just Because," "Illusionary Dreamer") enjoy solid instrumental support. Smith's best work, however, comes in classic settings like the intimate club jazz of "Elly Mae," which elicits his most affecting solo, and "Put Your Faith In Me," a dynamic gospel showcase of Hammond and horns, with a wall of choral vocals mixed in the background for a supportive effect which is completely unique.

Originally published in March 1997
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