|Last Updated: 4/15/2013
Jazz in April/May 2013
7200 N Scottsdale Rd
(Half mile north of Lincoln, on the NW corner of Scottsdale Rd. & Indian Bend)
Tuesdays - Trio with Danny Long & Tony Vacca sax - 7-11pm
Wednesdays - Solo piano/vocal - 6-11pm (except 2/6)
Thursdays - with Margo Reed - 7-11pm
Fridays & Saturdays - duo with Danny Long -7-11pm
Arizona's most intimate, friendly restaurant/lounge, serving
great food and cocktails, and featuring jazz and dancing nightly
Sundays, 5-7:30pm, The Soul Sisters: Judy @ Renee Patrick
The "Jazz Corner" @ the PITA JUNGLE in Mesa
1850 W Southern Ave., across from Mesa Community College.
Delicious mega-healthy food, fun & music!
Monday Music @ Malee's with The Soul Sisters, Judy & Renee Patrick
Hot jazz/Thai food in Old Town Scottsdale, 6-9pm.
MALEE'S THAI BISTRO, 7131 E. Main Street,
(Call first due to possible changes)
A poignant return for former Chicagoan Judy Roberts
Judy Roberts Quartet plays Jazz Showcase on Friday and Saturday.
(Photo by: Charles Osgood, Chicago Tribune)
Howard Reich Arts critic
11:44 a.m. CDT, June 7, 2012
Singer-pianist Judy Roberts' engagement this week at the Jazz Showcase will not be easy for her.
Though she's eager to return to the city where she long based her career, before moving to Phoenix five years ago, this outing will be different.
This time, Chicago bassist Nick Tountas who famously played in her London House trio of the 1960s and frequently thereafter won't be there. Tountas died in February at age 77 of cardiac arrest, and Roberts says she's not sure how she's going to make it through her shows without him.
"I'm afraid I'm going to look across the stage and not see him and lose it and have to step away," says Roberts, who plays through Sunday at the Showcase.
"It's a big deal. To say I'm verklempt would be putting it mildly," adds Roberts, invoking a Yiddish word that roughly means emotionally choked up.
Roberts' attachment to Tountas' memory runs deep because it's so tightly bound with the beginnings of her career. In 1962, Tountas heard the then-emerging musician playing the Hungry Eye on North Wells Street and hired her to perform at his restaurant, the Midas Touch. Within months, Tountas was taking bass lessons and sitting in with Roberts, soon accompanying her and drummer Rusty Jones as house band at the London House (where Roberts' trio would alternate sets with visiting stars).
"We connected completely," says Roberts of her musical introduction to Tountas.
"Our musical concept, our harmonic concept, our textural concept, our ideas of what to do when, when to leave space, how the bass note would compliment my left hand, how I would change my left hand (patterns) to compliment his bass note everything.
"It was all on a very, very profoundly intimate level. It's hard to duplicate that with somebody. I've played with great bass players, like Ray Brown, but with Nick it was special.
"He was my second real bass player, and I was his first pianist.
The better he got and the more experienced he got, the better he played. It was like the first love of your life."
Their musical connection deepened with time, Roberts rekindling it periodically in performance through the decades. In recent seasons, when she revived her London House trio (with Tountas and drummer Rusty Jones) for homecoming engagements at the Showcase, listeners crowding the club for every set.
"That sentence 'the original London House trio' is why we did so well at the Showcase," says Roberts. "That sentence had so much appeal to everybody from that era and beyond. I think if I had showed up with Ray Brown, it wouldn't have been that great a success."
Assuming she can hold it together for her first post-Tountas engagement in Chicago, Roberts expects she'll play some of the bassist's tunes, such as "Lonely Days" (which closes her "In the Moment" album) and Duke Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" (which the trio played on Marty Faye's old TV show practically a lifetime ago).
But there's an upbeat side to Roberts' engagement, as well, because it will reunite her with fans who have waited since last summer to hear her ultra-sophisticated singing and delicately articulated pianism.
"My true and old friends are all in Chicago, and my husband is in Chicago," says Roberts, referring to saxophonist Greg Fishman, who will be playing the Showcase engagement with Roberts, drummer Jones and bassist Jim Cox.
"Let's see Greg is that tall guy with the hat, is that correct?" she jokes, as if the geographical distance between them has led her to forget how he looks.
"I mean, he's my favorite saxophone player, favorite musician, favorite guy, and I don't get to see him, because of this odd living situation, which we're trying to obviously come up with a way to fix."
Along these lines, one can't help but notice that Roberts' residency here this summer will be the longest since she left, stretching fully three months, at least through Labor Day. After the Showcase engagement ends, she'll be appearing in many rooms identified with her, including Katerina's, on West Irving Park Road, and Chambers, in Niles.
"Yeah, each year it gets longer," observes Roberts. "If I keep this up, within six more years I'll be living there again."
To read more from Howard Reich on jazz, go to chicagotribune.com/reich.
Judy Roberts Quartet
SUMMER 2013 - JULY 17TH - 21ST!
When: 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4, 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.
Tickets: $20-$25; 312-360-0234 or jazzshowcase.com
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "Judy Roberts Comes Home Again"
"Judy Roberts comes home again"
by Howard Reich, Arts critic
When Judy Roberts sits down at the piano and begins to sing, it almost seems as if she never went away. The nearly whispered vocals, the lushly voiced chords, the elegant keyboard touch it's all there, in place, just as you remembered.
Five years ago, Roberts who built her career in Chicago moved to Phoenix, to the dismay of several generations of fans. She has been returning every summer since, this year for a three-month run in various clubs.
But she always launches her homecoming in the city's top room, the Jazz Showcase, and she did so again on Wednesday night, opening an engagement that extends through Sunday. The first set proved as loose and freewheeling as one expected, Roberts leading a quartet through a show that clearly was conceived on the spot (the negotiations among the musicians between numbers were a tip-off).
This time, though, Roberts' was performing without her longtime Chicago bassist, Nick Tountas, who died in February at age 77. Yet Roberts has played often through the years with bassist Jim Cox, who has joined her quartet for this run, as well as with drummer Rusty Jones and saxophonist-flutist Greg Fishman (her husband). Even if the personnel and the repertoire were familiar, however, the music sounded spontaneous and alive.
For starters, the passing years somehow only have rendered Roberts' voice more endearing. Her habit of shying away from key melody notes, her translucent tone, her sweet vocal colorings quickly disarm the listener. Roberts sometimes laments that she doesn't have enough "air" to support a bigger sound, but, in her case, that's quite beside the point. It's the delicacy of her sound and subtlety of her phrasing that make her case, forcing listeners to listen a bit more intently than they would to brassier vocalists.
And then there's her pianism, plush in ballads, fluid in bebop, seemingly casual in delivery. Few singers play piano as adroitly as Roberts, and fewer pianists sing with comparable dexterity.
Roberts opened her set with Duke Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," its title a reference, perhaps, to the loss of Tountas, but her performance a testament to a will to keep swinging anyway. Roberts hit surprisingly hard here, packing her piano solos with fistfuls of notes, while Fishman produced an uncommonly burly sound on tenor saxophone. With that, the Roberts Quartet was off and running.
In Charlie Parker's "Scrapple From the Apple," Roberts' vocals and Fishman's baritone saxophone tore through the main theme together at quite a clip, yet they maintained a signature transparency of sound. Drummer Jones produced a light, bright solo to match, and bassist Cox kept rhythms pressing forward.
Roberts long has been a close friend and colleague of pianist Marian McPartland, and in her honor Roberts performed a beloved McPartland ballad, "Twilight World." Roberts addressed the melody with haunting restraint, leaving space for flute phrases from Fishman. Their lines dovetailed with apparent ease.
Roberts gets acclimated to the musicians and to her hometown once more..