|KATY ROBERTS, the Paris-based jazz pianist, doesn’t take long to display her considerable gifts and charm on this spirited transatlantic session, recorded in Washington at Twins Jazz on U St. NW and in Paris at Bop City.
On the opening track, Victor Lewis’s “7th Ave.”, Roberts colorfully punctuates the hard-bop tension with flowing chromaticism and blues tints. When the tempo and meter shift on the next tune, Salim Washington’s “Blossom”, Roberts shores up the flute-limed melody with brightly cascading lines and a swinging pulse. Sometimes forceful, sometimes fanciful, always a plus, Roberts’s improvisations rank among the album’s most rewarding pleasures, right alongside reedman Washington’s contributions on tenor saxophone and flute and Rasul Siddik’s turns on trumpet and flugelhorn.
Unlike a lot of live jazz recordings, this one never devolves into a mere blowing session. Despite the occasional changes in the rhythm section lineup, the quintet sounds consistently tight and interactive as it moves through tunes composed by Joe Henderson (“Punjab”, featuring, as it turns out, a jabbing tenor-trumpet frontline), McCoy Tyner (“Aisha”, softly arranged for flute and muted trumpet) and Charles Mingus (“Self Portrait in 3 Colors”, a particularly soulful showcase for Washington’s flute.) the list of tunesmiths represented also includes Ronnie Matthews, Joe Bonner and Roberts herself. “Photonality”, her sole offering, makes for an exhilarating interlude that underscores John Coltrane’s influence on Washington. And speaking of Coltrane, the CD concludes with a bonus track composed by the jazz titan-“26-2”, on which Siddik and Washington shine.
-Mike Joyce , Washington Post 2006