American jazz singer, pianist, songwriter & bandleader
“Conspicuously literate and restlessly inventive.” - The New Yorker
PATRICIA BARBER - Piano & Vocals
PATRICK MULCAHY - Bass
ROSS PEDERSON - Drums
HARVEY WAINAPEL - Saxophones
Tuesday, October 29
From her early days leading a jazz trio in small Chicago nightclubs, Patricia Barber has drawn extravagant accolades. The praise came at first from local writers, impressed by her unique arrangements and coolly composed piano improvisations. As she added vocals to her repertoire, the praise poured in from national reviewers intoxicated by her recordings. And when (after years of international touring) she began to focus on her own compositions, kudos arrived from new fans, besotted by her lapidary lyrics and her often indelible imagery.
Since Barber doesn’t consider herself a poet – and since she didn’t want to be a jazz pianist in the first place – you’d have to say things turned out pretty well.
Barber wrote (in Poetry Magazine, in 2005): “I am a songwriter, which is not the same thing as a poet. Poetry is a passion, my ever present guide and inspiration. Though I indulge in very little of the lingua franca of the art. . . . I cannot talk about poetry, but I know poetry. Alone, with logic and diligence, I have studied, but for me art can be created neither by logic nor diligence. Like music, poetry is created in the mouth, in the ear, and in the air.”
That’s an especially nuanced explanation; then again, the gleaming successes of Barber’s art lie in the nuances, the nooks and crannies, of conventional performance. When the veteran music writer Don Heckman (in the Los Angeles Times) called Barber “one of the most utterly individual jazz performers to arrive on the scene in years,” he wasn’t referring to the virtuosic spectacle that comes all too easily to today’s jazz artists; he had homed in on the quiet audacity with which Barber has redefined the role of the singer-songwriter for 21st-century jazz.
Now with Smash, her January 22, 2013 debut on Concord Jazz, Barber proves that her poetry continues to search ever deeper, even as her music grows all the more magical.