Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 8, No. 6, 2009

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
David Solway
Robert Rotondo
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Jazz Contributors

Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire
Madeleine Peyroux
Bireli Lagrene
Sonido Isleño
Provost & Lachapelle
Kevin Breit
Sophie Milman
Annie Poulain
Badi Assad
Donato & Bouchard
Ingrid Jensen
John Roney
Russell Malone
David Binney
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Mimi Fox
Voo Doo Scat
Coral Egan
Martin Taylor
Jordon Officer
Melody Gardot
Jean Vanasse
Yves Léveillé
Sylvain Provost
Louciana Souza
2009 Montreal Guitarissimo 2008 (Russell Malone, Stanley Jordan, Monte Montgomery, Sylvain Provost etc
2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101 (featuring David Binney)
Montreal Jazz Festival 2006







Piano Keyboard


by Neila Mezynski

Featured artist: PATRICIA BARBER


Since Patricia Barber opened up the category, there are now lots of singers out there who have turned pop songs into jazz. After the release of her breakout album, Distortion of Love (1992), she said: “No one else was recording contemporary pop tunes in a jazz vein. I feel like a postmodern pioneer.”

Pioneering a new concept can be intimidating, and it takes a head of steam to push past the naysayers. For 20 some years Patricia Barber has been working at her craft. However, it wasn’t always easy sailing after the female jazz greats died off: Ella, Sarah, Carmen, Peggy Lee. Barber said it was a major hurdle to get people to listen to anyone new and female, not to mention -- take seriously. Jaded, die-hard jazz buffs had presumably heard it all. But change can’t be denied, and Patricia Barber, Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson have emerged as significant agents of change since their music has won over the hearts and ears of both the old vanguard as well as many new listeners. No surprise that she received significant critical acclaim for her memorable performance at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival which featured mostly material from her new CD, The Cole Porter Mix, as well as several originals.

Chicago-based, Patricia Barber has been releasing mind boggling albums for more than 20 years: Café Blue in 1994, Modern Cool in 1998, Nightclub, 2000 and the 2006 album, Mythologies, based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, released after Barber received the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003.

Long an admirer of Porter, Barber feels a deep affinity with his incomparable craft and gift for melody. “Cole Porter has always been my songwriting idol. I love his music and I’ve been singing his songs for so many years.” She confesses to being somewhat self-conscious about putting her own material (three originals) on the same CD with Porter’s songs, until she realized, “I (try) write like him, I’ve learned from him, I count syllables and use internal rhyme like he did.”

She explains in her song, “I Wait for Late Afternoon and You,” “the effect of the song is not quite sad, but the sadness is there. Cole never wrote a song that said ‘I’m miserable.” Barber’s three songs on the CD, “Late Afternoon,” “Snow,” and “New Years Eve Song,” are haunting, lingering, with melodious twists and turns. The ingenious lyrics are invested with a contemporary (and sometimes humorous) feel, as in “Snow:”

Do you think of me like fat, irresistible as cream
On your lips on your hips like chocolate like a dream
Oh to be the moon
A diamond you can't resist
The space between the stars do you think of me like this

True to the jazz idiom, Barber exercises the performer’s prerogative in her interpretation of Porter’s songs, which also includes timely, updated lyrics (“You’re The Top),” but is always mindful of the qualities and inherent message of the song, and delivered with utmost respect.

Sad to say some singers feel they need to do ‘things’ to a song to hold the listeners’ attention. Patricia Barber delivers straight from the heart. In this writer’s opinion, Diana Krall and Cassandra Wilson, both good singers, can be accused of putting too much icing on the cake; perhaps too much style. Barber is just plain better: no gimmicks, softly bitten, lingered over words, breathed in and out, that make for an intimacy that lingers in the air like an expensive cologne.

Band member, Neal Alger, guitar and bass, has been with Barber for six years and is showcased on “I Wait for Late Afternoon with You” with a talkative, walkin’ bass combined with his double duties on guitar. Michael Arnopol, also on bass, shares an intimate cheek to cheek conversation (bass to piano) with Barber on “Snow.” He has been with her since 1980. “He feels like a brother,” she says, “We learned jazz together;” Nate Smith is on drums and percussion along with Eric Montzka; Barber on piano and melodica. Guest artist, tenor saxophonist, Chris Potter accompanies her on, “You’re The Top,” “C’est Magnifique” and is delicious on “The New Year’s Eve Song” with Barber on melodica.

I’m sure Cole Porter would give The Cole Porter Mix the highest marks for having ‘gotten under his skin.’ And for her Montreal concert, the audience wouldn’t let her go – which is why she’ll be back soon.




John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
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