By James Walker, Jr.
As has been the case in recent months, Room 43 filled up quickly in anticipation of vocalist Tecora Rogers' return to Hyde Park Jazz Society's weekly soiree at this increasingly popular Sunday evening jazz set.
Tecora, recently back home from one of her frequent engagements in Russia, was accompanied by an all star trio consisting of Josh Ramos on bass, Charles Rick" Heath on drums and Chicago's premier guitarist Curtis Robinson fronting this group. Curtis is your consummate professional who wastes little time taking charge and connecting instantly with the audience. The trio warmed" up the audience with a couple of nice selections that really set the mood for the evening.
Actually, many leaders would have been threatened by such an introduction, but Tecora just sat back groovin to Curtis and the gang before she took her turn on stage. Elegantly attired in a long black dress, Tecora began her segment with Just in Time" which featured both Curtis and Josh.
Tecora followed up that number with Everything Must Change", which she dedicated to her husband. This song was delivered with effect and emotion and of course, Mr. Robinson had his guitar crying" like only he can do. This was a great rendition which the audience simply loved.
Tecora engaged the audience in a sing-a-long" on Paul Anka's I Love You Baby". Those not singing were snapping fingers or clapping hands. Perhaps the highlight of the first set occurred during the final number. Tecora put a new twist on Nina Simone's It's A New Day". This up tempo version had her dueling" with Curtis, while Rick Heath whipped the audience into a frenzy with a standing ovation on his ever so smooth extended solo that was absolutely intoxicating.
Before Ms. Rogers took the stage for the second set, Curtis led the trio in a very seductive version of Spanish Harlem". The tone was again set for Tecora. Although this writer only remained for the next number, it certainly was worth the stay, as Ms.Rogers was at her absolute best on the number made famous by Etta James, At Last". This classic song was well delivered which again included an exceptional solo by Dr". Robinson on the guitar. These two work so well together...