Patricia Barber: Verse (2002)
Backed up by ace support from guitarist Neal Alger, bassist Michael Arnopol, drummers Joey Baron and Eric Montzka, trumpeter Dave Douglas, and the Cliff Colnot String Ensemble, the startlingly original vocalist-pianist-songwriter creates superb music that maintains modest tempos in most of its tunes and yet somehow manages to shake and surprise us with each new take. You can feel the somber love on such tracks as "I Could Eat Your Words," one of a few selected numbers that employs Barber's piano prowess. The album teases us with that latter talent, but it frees her to focus so strongly on her vocals and allows the backup, including wonderfully sustained work by trumpeter Douglas and the guitar and bass work from Alger and Arnopol, to shine.
In addition to the assured performing of virtually everyone on board, Verse is a prime showcase for Barber's writing - all work on the album is original - and the lyrics themselves have a dreamy, open quality. The first track, "Lost in This Love," is comprised solely of questions, indeed allowing us to get lost in Barber's love. Love of fine jazz, that is, in an album of unquestionable passion and power that would be foolish for any jazz fan to pass up.
Track Listing: Lost in This Love (3:03) Clues (5:01) Regular Pleasures (5:46) The Moon (6:06) You Gotta Go Home (3:20) I Could Eat Your Words (7:54) The Fire (4:54) Pieces (5:37) Dansons La Gigue (4:23) If I Were Blue (5:56)
Personnel: Patricia Barber (vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes) Neal Alger (guitars) Michael Arnopol (bass) Joe Baron (drums: #1 - 4; #6 - 10) Dave Douglas (trumpet) Eric Montzka (drums: #5) Cliff Colnot String Ensemble (strings, #2)
Record Label: Blue Note Records