I thought 2006's "Mythologies" was one of the most creative "jazz" recordings ever, and one of the best c.d.'s of that year. When I heard that Ms. Barber was going from that Guggenheim-funded project to a c.d. of Cole Porter covers, I thought, "Huh?"
But in a weird sort of way, it makes sense. Say what you will about Patricia Barber: this is an artist who pushes the envelope. And discovering how to make new and fresh an idea that has been done a thousand times before is, in its own way, a creative challenge.
And Patricia Barber succeeds. Here's why:
In previous recordings, I've noted that Patricia Barber is like a singing Mrs. Robinson - one who sings with a detached cool that masks a profound amount of emotion. Here, she lets the emotion out.
Check out the broad romance of "Late Afternoon and You." Consider the breathless wonder of "C'est Magnifique." Or listen to the intense forboding of "Get Out of Town." Or the bitter,...
Patricia Barber's recordings are of such superb quality that one doesn't expect her to get better, yet she does. A songwriter of the highest caliber, superb pianist and amazing singer who is just scary, genius-level smart.
Many delights here: great versions of Cole Porter, of course. Originals that more than hold their own (the gorgeous eroticism of "Snow" is itself worth the cost of the CD). Chris Potter's unbelievable solos. Perhaps most inspiring, her wonderful band that has been with her for years keeps getting better; guitarist Neal Alger in particular seems to have taken a giant leap forward from his already very high level of play.
Patricia Barber's boxing matching match with sentimentality continues in this nearly perfect interpretation of Cole Porter classics. She counter- punches his exuberance with dry wit and brings fun to his cycnicism. Never has "You're the Top" been so carefree. "Get Outta Town" echoes Barber's own "Ya Gotta Go Home", the piano mocking the lyrics and the subject as well. No one else seems capable of this kind of intelligent, funny, honest work. Surely no one does it better.
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