How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Singer/pianist Patricia Barber never fails to amaze with her original material and her very unique takes on old standards. She is that rarest of jazz musicianshighly thoughtful, at times even cerebral, but always swingingthe kind of jazz musician Gerry Mulligan used to call a "wailing wig."
A Distortion of Love from 1992 showcases Patricia Barber the consummate jazz pianist as well as the chanteuse with the husky voice which has become her trademark of late. There are some very interesting purely instrumental tracks on this album, especially the hard driving McCoy Tyner-ish "Subway Station No. 5," the impressionistic "Parts Parallels," and "Yet Another in a Long Series of Yellow Car" which has a Joe Zawinul/Weather Report feel to it.
Barber has a way with ballads that is haunting. Displaying a penchant for extremely slow tempi a la Dee Barton's arrangement of "Here's That Rainy Day" made famous by the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Barber makes George Gershwin's "Summertime" all her own as she squeezes every ounce of lethargy and ennui out of the song's text. "You Stepped Out of a Dream" receives a magnificent interpretation by Barber and her combo and is the highlight of the album. Wolfgang Muthspiel's guitar solo nicely complements Barber's highly nuanced vocal.
If you like jazz that provides food for thought as well as swings, Patricia Barber's A Distortion of Love is the album for you.
Track Listing: Summertime; Subway Station No.5; You Stepped Out of a Dream; Parts Parallels; Or Not To Be; Yellow Car; Yet Another in a Series of Yellow Car; I Never Went Away; My Girl; By Myself
Personnel: Patricia Barber, voice, piano; Adam Nussbaum, drums; Marc Johnson, bass; Wolfgang Muthspiel, guitar