The modern mainstream has many champions. Patricia Barber is one of them. With her quartet, she worked concert halls for two weeks in Paris, Metz, Nice, and La Rochelle this past March and April to demonstrate for French audiences that we continue to experience surges of growth in the art formas long as freedom of expression remains unhampered by social restrictions.
Paris, after all, was once considered the art capital of the world. Throughout several centuries, artists from many fields of practice have flocked to that part of the world to bathe in the glow of the area's artistic freedom.
With A Fortnight In France, Barber combines earthy blues with soulful jazz, hard-hitting instrumentals with sentimental vocal ballads, classic lyrical memories with fresh themes.
She sings convincingly, with a deep, contralto resonance that gets you right down in your mind's heart. David Raksin's "Laura" will never be forgotten. Barber gives it a fluid interpretation that puts tears in your eyes.
The favorite standard, "Witchcraft," is performed as an instrumental, with a familiar attitude. Barber's original "Crash," also interpreted as an instrumental number, rocks the house with its fiery appeal and forward-looking ambition. Neal Alger, Michael Arnapol and Eric Montzka give the pianist solid support. Even the rocking piano solo that she employs to punctuate the lyrics of "Norwegian Wood," finds its path to creative improvisation natural and fulfilling.
Highly original, Patricia Barber continues to astound with her natural blues sensuality and leading edge jazz originality. A Fortnight In France wins this year's overall gold medal.
Substantial audio and video examples from previous projects may be found at the artist's web site. She's also included a lengthy interview and performance. Makes it easier to get to know her.
Personnel: Patricia Barber- piano, vocals; Neal Alger- guitar; Michael Arnapol- bass; Eric Montzka- drums, percussion.