Patricia Barber: The Cole Porter Mix (2008)
The Cole Porter Mix, Barber's tenth CD, is a clear departure from this approach, since it features straightforward renderings of someone else's music. This set mixes ten of Porter's most familiar tunes with three of Barber's, all delivered with the expert, empathic assistance of long-term guitarist Neal Alger and bassist Michael Arnopol. Guest saxophonist Chris Potter adds his impressive tenor to five tunes, and the drum throne is capably shared by Eric Montzka and Nate Smith.
The music is carefully-crafted and intriguing, with fresh and swinging versions of Porter's timeless classics. It begins with the welcoming "Easy to Love," a sunny bossa with a surprising dash of R&B in the vocal. Barber contributes her own clever lyrics to "You're the Top," and interprets "C'est Magnifique" as a moody ballad, removing all traces of the jaunty vaudevillian Maurice Chevalier, who used to own this song. Potter's solos are remarkable, especially on "Just One of Those Things," "Snow," and "The New Year's Eve Song," and he wails like crazy at the end of "In the Still of the Night." Alger's atmospheric use of guitar distortion on "Get Out of Town" adds to the track's ominous throb, while Smith does great brushwork on the sexy "What is This Thing Called Love?."
Although Barber's originals lack the effervescent sparkle of Porter's music, they are always tuneful, intimate, and full of vivid imagery, and they fit well into this collection. All told, The Cole Porter Mix is Barber at her warmest and most accessible, and it gets richer and deeper with each listening.
Track Listing: Easy to Love; I Wait for Late Afternoon and You; I Get a Kick Out of You; You’re The Top; Just One of Those Things; Snow; C'est Magnifique; Get Out of Town; I Concentrate on You; In the Still of the Night; What is This Thing Called Love?; Miss Otis Regrets; The New Year's Eve Song.
Personnel: Patricia Barber: piano, vocals, melodica; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone; Neal Alger: acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Michael Arnopol: bass; Eric Montzka, Nate Smith: drums, percussion.
Record Label: Blue Note Records