Patricia Barber


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At a Glance

Nationality: American
Born: 1956


Biography

Barber’s band includes guitarist Neal Alger, who has been performing with her the past six years, and bassist Michael Arnopol, who has worked with her since 1980. “We’re like brother and sister,” she says. “We learned jazz together and played all those gigs in Chicago together when I was coming up.” Drum duties are shared by Eric Montzka and Nate Smith, who is in Dave Holland’s bands. Another Holland sideman and formidable leader in his own right, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter guests on five tracks. Barber plays piano throughout as well as contributes melodica colors to some tunes, including ... Read more

Barber’s band includes guitarist Neal Alger, who has been performing with her the past six years, and bassist Michael Arnopol, who has worked with her since 1980. “We’re like brother and sister,” she says. “We learned jazz together and played all those gigs in Chicago together when I was coming up.” Drum duties are shared by Eric Montzka and Nate Smith, who is in Dave Holland’s bands. Another Holland sideman and formidable leader in his own right, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter guests on five tracks. Barber plays piano throughout as well as contributes melodica colors to some tunes, including her gem, “The New Year’s Eve Song,” that closes the album.
For more than two decades, Barber, based in Chicago, has led her own band and released a series of highly acclaimed, strikingly singular albums, dating back to 1992’s breakout major label album Distortion of Love. It featured her rendition of Smokey Robinson’s pop hit, “My Girl,” predating by a year Cassandra Wilson’s similarly groundbreaking Blue Light Til Dawn. “At the time, no one else was recording contemporary pop tunes in a jazz vein,” Barber said in an interview a decade later. “I do feel like a postmodern pioneer. Soon after, all music began to be viewed as viable material for jazz vocalists and instrumentalists. The old repertoire distinctions between popular music and jazz were falling away.”
She added that a key hurdle was convincing listeners that there was life after the era of iconic singers that included Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae and Ella Fitzgerald. “Many jazz fans have lost the ability to imagine the future, yet anything innovative in jazz vocals has taken place in spite of people lamenting the loss of Sarah, Peggy, Carmen, and Ella,” she said. “People try to appropriate, copyright and own the music, but it refuses to be contained. In spite of the people who don’t want to see music change, it finds its way like water coursing through rocks.”
Barber continued to be a jazz agent for change, exhibiting her prowess as a jazz vocalist with the releases of Café Blue (1994), Modern Cool (1998) and Nightclub (2000), all of which garnered her an avid international following. Her 2002 album Verse earned a steady flow of critical plaudits. Stereophile magazine celebrated Barber as “more than a poet, more than a singer, more than a songwriter. None of these categories alone can do justice to the fullness of her artistic presentation” while W Magazine wrote that she “has the voice of a cabaret chanteuse, the soul of a beat poet and the mind of an English professor, and they come together here with remarkably spooky results.”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Barber’s band includes guitarist Neal Alger, who has been performing with her the past six years, and bassist Michael Arnopol, who has worked with her since 1980. “We’re like brother and sister,” she says. “We learned jazz together and played all those gigs in Chicago together when I was coming up.” Drum duties are shared by Eric Montzka and Nate Smith, who is in Dave Holland’s bands. Another Holland sideman and formidable leader in his own right, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter guests on five tracks. Barber plays piano throughout as well as contributes melodica colors to some tunes, including her gem, “The New Year’s Eve Song,” that closes the album.
For more than two decades, Barber, based in Chicago, has led her own band and released a series of highly acclaimed, strikingly singular albums, dating back to 1992’s breakout major label album Distortion of Love. It featured her rendition of Smokey Robinson’s pop hit, “My Girl,” predating by a year Cassandra Wilson’s similarly groundbreaking Blue Light Til Dawn. “At the time, no one else was recording contemporary pop tunes in a jazz vein,” Barber said in an interview a decade later. “I do feel like a postmodern pioneer. Soon after, all music began to be viewed as viable material for jazz vocalists and instrumentalists. The old repertoire distinctions between popular music and jazz were falling away.”
She added that a key hurdle was convincing listeners that there was life after the era of iconic singers that included Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae and Ella Fitzgerald. “Many jazz fans have lost the ability to imagine the future, yet anything innovative in jazz vocals has taken place in spite of people lamenting the loss of Sarah, Peggy, Carmen, and Ella,” she said. “People try to appropriate, copyright and own the music, but it refuses to be contained. In spite of the people who don’t want to see music change, it finds its way like water coursing through rocks.”
Barber continued to be a jazz agent for change, exhibiting her prowess as a jazz vocalist with the releases of Café Blue (1994), Modern Cool (1998) and Nightclub (2000), all of which garnered her an avid international following. Her 2002 album Verse earned a steady flow of critical plaudits. Stereophile magazine celebrated Barber as “more than a poet, more than a singer, more than a songwriter. None of these categories alone can do justice to the fullness of her artistic presentation” while W Magazine wrote that she “has the voice of a cabaret chanteuse, the soul of a beat poet and the mind of an English professor, and they come together here with remarkably spooky results.”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Barber’s band includes guitarist Neal Alger, who has been performing with her the past six years, and bassist Michael Arnopol, who has worked with her since 1980. “We’re like brother and sister,” she says. “We learned jazz together and played all those gigs in Chicago together when I was coming up.” Drum duties are shared by Eric Montzka and Nate Smith, who is in Dave Holland’s bands. Another Holland sideman and formidable leader in his own right, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter guests on five tracks. Barber plays piano throughout as well as contributes melodica colors to some tunes, including her gem, “The New Year’s Eve Song,” that closes the album.
For more than two decades, Barber, based in Chicago, has led her own band and released a series of highly acclaimed, strikingly singular albums, dating back to 1992’s breakout major label album Distortion of Love. It featured her rendition of Smokey Robinson’s pop hit, “My Girl,” predating by a year Cassandra Wilson’s similarly groundbreaking Blue Light Til Dawn. “At the time, no one else was recording contemporary pop tunes in a jazz vein,” Barber said in an interview a decade later. “I do feel like a postmodern pioneer. Soon after, all music began to be viewed as viable material for jazz vocalists and instrumentalists. The old repertoire distinctions between popular music and jazz were falling away.”
She added that a key hurdle was convincing listeners that there was life after the era of iconic singers that included Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae and Ella Fitzgerald. “Many jazz fans have lost the ability to imagine the future, yet anything innovative in jazz vocals has taken place in spite of people lamenting the loss of Sarah, Peggy, Carmen, and Ella,” she said. “People try to appropriate, copyright and own the music, but it refuses to be contained. In spite of the people who don’t want to see music change, it finds its way like water coursing through rocks.”
Barber continued to be a jazz agent for change, exhibiting her prowess as a jazz vocalist with the releases of Café Blue (1994), Modern Cool (1998) and Nightclub (2000), all of which garnered her an avid international following. Her 2002 album Verse earned a steady flow of critical plaudits. Stereophile magazine celebrated Barber as “more than a poet, more than a singer, more than a songwriter. None of these categories alone can do justice to the fullness of her artistic presentation” while W Magazine wrote that she “has the voice of a cabaret chanteuse, the soul of a beat poet and the mind of an English professor, and they come together here with remarkably spooky results.”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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