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Patricia Barber - Cole Porter Mix

rec. December 2007

BLUE NOTE RECORDS 01468 [56:11]



1. Easy To Love
2. Late Afternoon And You
3. I Get A Kick Out Of You
4. You're The Top
5. Just One Of Those Things
6. Snow
7. C'est Magnifique
8. Get Out Of Town
9. I Concentrate On You
10. In The Still Of The Night
11. What Is This Thing Called Love
12. Miss Otis Regrets
13. New Year's Eve Song

Patricia Barber (vocals, piano, melodica)
Chris Potter (tenor saxophone)
Neal Alger (guitar)
Michael Arnopol (bass)
Eric Montzka (drums, percussion)
Nate Smith (drums, percussion)


The jazz critic of the London Times Clive Davis is a fervent admirer of Patricia Barber and eloquently sings her praises. As I respect his views I gave her last album Mythologies a listen and found it very sticky going, despite the many plaudits it received. Her new disc is based on more solid ground, at least for me, in mining the Cole Porter songbook.

The singer-pianist starts with a boson nova inflected Easy To Love. I Get A Kick Out Of You is re-worked cleverly with shifting bass and drum patterns and a good tenor solo from Chris Potter – it’s quite allusive harmonically. You're The Top cleaves far closer to the melody line, reigning in harmonic exploration. Propulsion rules on Just One Of Those Things  which is taken at a very up-tempo.

Barber reinforces the Gallic insouciance of C'est Magnifique with her use of the melodica and the general languid air and turns on a funkier groove in Get Out Of Town with its swinging yet contained piano solo. A feature throughout is the loose-limbed rhythm section and its adaptability to the various metres and tempi that Barber dictates. This is almost painfully reinforced in In The Still Of The Night where there  is a relentless, almost insistent rhythmic charge and an angular, rather bad tempered solo from Potter. Miss Otis Regrets begins, appropriately – but how many other singers would think of it? – as a monologue for Barber before the guitar adds its gloss on the narrative retelling. It is for me evidence of Barber’s superiority as a vocal conversationalist – and here her voice is not as androgynous as it can be; and it really is at its most androgynous in Easy to Love.

There are three songs by Barber, for which the lyrics are printed in the booklet. Of this trio Late Afternoon And You is probably the pick; a contemporary take on Porter featuring an excellent guitar solo from Neal Alger.

Invention runs throughout this disc. It didn’t quite convince me of Clive Davis’s high opinion, though there are strong flickers of it.

Jonathan Woolf




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