Roberta Duchak


Review by Brad Walseth

I'm a little slow sometimes, and it didn't dawn on me what the cleverly titled CD from singer Roberta Duchak "Intersections" was referring to. Even the cover shot of the W. 52nd Street and Broadway signs didn't clue me in initially, but upon listening I had my Eureka moment. This is simply a lovely album of Broadway numbers done with a jazz feel.

And successfully too. The music is recorded well and features nice supportive work by her cast of backing musicians. On this recording, Duchak takes on a strong list of well known numbers like Vernon Duke's "Taking a Chance on Love" (from the film Cabin in the Sky), Lerner and Loewe's "Almost Like Being in Love" (from Brigadoon), Cole Porter's "So In Love" (Kiss me Kate) and Jerome Kern's "Can't Help Loving That Man of Mine" (from Showboat), and combining them with recent hits like Rent's "Seasons of Love," "Nothing is Too Wonderful to be True" (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and "Raise the Roof" from the off-Broadway The Wild Party, and some from in-between including "What You Don't Know About Women" (from City of Angels), Burt Bacharach's "Whoever You Are, I Love You" (Promises, Promises) and Stephen Sondheim's "So Many People"(Saturday Night). Song choices and production/playing aside, it is Duchak's stunning voice really rockets this album into the stratosphere.

The album opener, and a highlight, features Duchak singing the Irving Berlin tune "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy," made most famous by Al Jolson. Although Duchak's version isn't as bombastic as the Shirley Bassey version, it is nevertheless a great take on this gem of a song.

Reed man/co-musical director and arranger Jim Hoke certainly deserves some credit for the tight and snappy arrangements, and he provides some nice solo work as well, including some juicy harmonica on "So In Love." Guitarist Pat Bergeson adds some tasty guitar on "Raise the Roof," while pianist Pat Coil is strong throughout. Bassist Charlie Chadwick teams with Bob Mater on the drums to propel everything forward well. The songs run the gamut of emotions from the sorrowful to the upbeat, with the over-the-top Latin take on "Raise the Roof," perhaps the show stopper of the album. But the quieter moments appeal as well as on "Whoever You Are, I Love You," and Duchak shows she can belt out the blues as well on "What You Don't Know About Women."

Displaying impressive range and control, this is a singer that fans of female vocal jazz will want to get to know. Despite her incredible technique, Duchak's voice expresses personality nicely without the over-affectation that so many vocalists suffer from. Fans of such singers as Jane Monheit should give this CD a spin. I know I am looking forward to hearing more from this talented lady in the future.

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Contact Brad Walseth and JazzChicago.net at bwalseth60@aol.com

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