Vocalist/pianist Patricia Barber's 25-year career has been brilliantly marked by a complete unwillingness to compromise her approach to music. She exists in that uncharted creative realm where she successfully defies classification as a purveyor of any particular musical movement or genre. These characteristics spotlight Barber's role as an innovator and catalyst for musical evolution, a musician performing from the front edge rather than the middle of the creative muse. Barber readily shows her chops with standard and original material on her ten-plus previous releases. She exists in that same fertile space occupied by Cassandra Wilson, Gretchen Parlato, Tierney Sutton and Madeleine Peyroux, where the old is made new again and the new cuts on the fine edge of imagination.
Smash, a collection of twelve originals, follows two well- considered live Barber recordings assembled from her Monday night appearances at Chicago's Green Mill: Monday Night (Fast Atmosphere, 2009) and Monday Night Live at the Green Mill, Volume 2 (Fast Company, 2011). On those recordings, Barber displays her impressive piano command and unique approach to the standards as well as her finely-crafted original compositions. On Smash Barber emerges as the fully formed and informed composer with a new approach to jazz impressionism. Think Bill Evans as Mr. Spock.
Lyrically, Smash is confessional look at pain, loss and love, a kind of a musical The Awful Rowing Toward God (Anne Sexton, 1975-posthumous). Refined Beat images emerge in the medical language of "Code Cool" and the auto wreck picture board of the title song. Barber's musical accompaniment is equally impressionistic, if not more so. Her quartet is crack, particularly guitarist John Kregor who lays waste to the extended coda of "Smash" summoning the spirit of Neil Young melting in a fire. He works the same magic on "Scream," that while more integrated and melodic, is equally cathartic.
Smash gratefully arrives out of almost nowhere to push the jazz envelope out a little further.
Code Cool; The Wind Song; Romanesque: Smash; Redshift; Spring Song;
Devil's Food; Scream; The Swim; Bashful (Instrumental); The Storyteller;
Patricia Barber: piano, vocals; Larry Kohut: bass; John Kregor: guitar;
Jon Deitemyer: drums.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.