All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

150

Patricia Barber: Nightclub

Mathew Bahl By

Sign in to view read count
The harping of rigid purists or self-proclaimed visionaries aside, the enduring strength of jazz has always been its ability to accommodate both tradition and innovation. Patricia Barber has done plenty of experimenting on albums like Café Blue, Modern Cool and Companion. Her smartly crafted originals and reinventions of rock tunes like “Light My Fire” and “The Beat Goes On” have earned Ms. Barber a much deserved reputation as one of the most unique and interesting singer/songwriter/pianists in jazz. Having found her own distinctive voice and having demonstrated a willingness to push boundaries, Ms. Barber turns her attention to the music’s tradition with this collection of twelve standards.

Nightclub provides Ms. Barber with an ideal showcase for her formidable keyboard skills. She is an astonishingly creative improviser who manages to burrow deep inside a song without losing her sense of proportion. Her piano solos on “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “Invitation” and “All or Nothing at All” are concise, brilliantly constructed explorations of those tunes. She undertakes a more extended improvisation on “Yesterdays” where she creates a fascinating dynamic between relaxation and tension. Ms. Barber has surrounded herself with musicians who can match her own high standards. “Autumn Leaves” features a remarkable solo from bassist Marc Johnson, and “Alfie” is highlighted by Charlie Hunter’s 8-string guitar.

Ms. Barber is a quiet, intense, enormously intelligent singer who can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with a single word or phrase. She has chosen these standards with care and her singing is blessedly free of irony or tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. Rather than trying to subvert the lyrics, Ms. Barber underscores the timelessness of their themes by infusing them with her own thoroughly modern perspective. She turns “Just for a Thrill” and a perfectly phrased “You Don’t Know Me” into meditations on dependency and desire that feel completely contemporary. She makes a spare, evocative “I Fall in Love Too Easily” into an exercise in painful self-examination and an exceptional reading of Cole Porter’s “So in Love” into the last word on romantic obsession (no singer has ever gotten as much from the lines “so taunt me / and hurt me”). The CD is not, however, all brooding introspection. There are some lighter moments like the deliciously romantic “Summer Samba.”

Some critics will no doubt express consternation over the fact that Nightclub is not a repeat of the Modern Cool formula. However, Ms. Barber deserves credit for refusing to adhere to pre-set expectations. So long as she continues to make CDs with the kind of musicianship and insight she demonstrates here, then the past, present and future of jazz are all in good hands.


Title: Nightclub | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Blue Note

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Smash

Smash

Concord Records
2013

buy
 

Modern Cool

Blue Note
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read 9 CD/LP/Track Review
9
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 19, 2018
Read For Gyumri CD/LP/Track Review
For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Sextet (Parker) 1993 CD/LP/Track Review
Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim CD/LP/Track Review
Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim
by Kevin Press
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "Proverbe" CD/LP/Track Review Proverbe
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 15, 2017
Read "Leading The British Invasion" CD/LP/Track Review Leading The British Invasion
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 31, 2017
Read "Avalon" CD/LP/Track Review Avalon
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "A Cast of Thousands" CD/LP/Track Review A Cast of Thousands
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 30, 2017
Read "Nerve Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "Way Out West" CD/LP/Track Review Way Out West
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: February 16, 2018