There are some fine new recordings emerging from the San Francisco area recently. Sherri Roberts’ The Sky Could Send You is among them and, I dare say, very near the top of the heap. The Atlanta-raised vocalist is a picture of relaxed professionalism. Roberts swings so warmly and gently that that the listener’s tender side will reach out to her. The band is sympathetic to the singer’s warm delivery and performs in the same way. Robert’s regular sidekicks, David Udolf, John Hart, Vince Cherico and bassist Harvie S poured their souls into this project. There are no jazz standards on this session. The songs are drawn from celebrated popular songwriters like Henry Mancini, Bobby Troup, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Dimitri Tiomkin but the tunes won’t be familiar to the average jazz listener. We especially liked "Tell Me My Name," penned by Roger Kellaway and jazz author Gene Lees. This is probably the first time "Jamaica Farewell" ever graced a jazz recording and Roberts offers a beautiful reading of the old Belafonte hit. It’s interesting to find another fine jazz singer, Daria, providing backup vocals. Jimmy Webb penned "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" for Joe Cocker some three decades ago. Sherri Roberts serves it up in her own unique style with assistance from John Hart’s acoustic guitar. The singer and bassist Harvie S team up for a stunning version of Richard Rodgers’ "Do It The Hard Way." Rodgers created the song for the Broadway hit "Pal Joey" way back in 1940.
Fine solos by such eminent folks as Lew Soloff, Phil Woods and Tim Collins are the icing on the cake. It’s nice to see 2006 starting out with some stunning new albums and this is clearly a stunner.