Betty Roché’s one-time employer, Duke Ellington, once called his featured female vocalist "an unforgettable singer. . . 30 years ahead of her time." Now, over 30 years after this album was recorded (her first of two for Prestige), we have on CD nine excellent reasons for Ellington's encomium. Roché (1920–1999) had just moved back to New York after a West Coast sojourn when she met guitarist Bill Jennings, who brought her to Prestige and arranged all of the tunes here. Jennings enlisted his frequent colleague, organist Jack McDuff, to flesh out the group's sound, while the late Jimmy Forrest provided gruff and biting tenor solos. This organ-tenor-guitar line-up was the sound of uptown New York, and other African-American urban centers of the late 1950s and early Sixties, and Roché’s stylish swinging ("A Foggy Day," "Blue Moon," and the wholly-scatted "Billie’s Bounce") and warm ballads ("Come Rain or Come Shine," "Until the Real Thing Comes Along") perfectly fit the setting.
with Bill Jennings, Jimmy Forrest, Jack McDuff, Wendell Marshall, Roy Haynes