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Photo by Jammi York
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Photo by Jammi York
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Photo by Jammi York
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Photo by Jammi York
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“The album, a brilliant collection of original songs, all dispatched with Barber’s famously voluptuous voice and steeped in her atmospheric instrumental settings, marks a major step forward for one of the most significant jazz artists to come out of Chicago in the past two decades or more. These songs, often ambiguous in meaning but extremely seductive in tone, crystallize the high craft of Barber’s writing while inspiring unorthodox arrangements and often wizardly solo pianism.” - Chicago Tribune

“Barber’s clear, relaxed singing and understated but expressive piano playing continue to offer a winning mix of warmth and cool…their dreamy nuances reward your attention.” - * * * (out of four) - USA Today

“Conspicuously literate and restlessly inventive.” - The New Yorker

“Patricia Barber tends to stand out. It’s hard not to notice a stylish, nearly six-foot-tall woman striding purposefully into a sleek coffee shop, as she does on a mild early-December afternoon in Chicago’s trendy Andersonville neighborhood. Even if you didn’t know that an international jazz star had just entered the room, you’d take a good look at her. Her music is equally arresting, even if it’s not easy to grasp at first. Packed with witty, intellectual lyrics, startling harmonic twists and vocals that range from a dusky whisper to a piercing scream, Barber’s music isn’t easily categorized. Her mix of jazz, pop and art song results in something completely unique.” - Jazziz

“Barber braids wrenching, elemental poetry into a private musical language fashioned from the yearning ache of Bill Evans’ piano, Joni Mitchell’s zigzag introspections, Jobim’s winking mix of high-end philosophy and pastel melody and an occasional explosion of skronk and funk.” - DownBeat

“Few performers in or out of jazz are as consistently brilliant as Patricia Barber. Smash, her first album for Concord Jazz, simply reconfirms Barber’s status as a consummate artist…Brainy. Beautiful.” - JazzTimes

“Barber has an arresting vocal instrument that she controls beautifully. She can sing softly or powerfully - whatever is needed for the material - and her compositions are more like paintings than songs…Smash is an interesting offering from a talented artist managing to create her own musical genre.” - The New York City Jazz Record

Smash is an extraordinary achievement. Here, jazz is popular music without being anything other than itself. Its depth, creativity, searing poetry, and artisan musicianship make it a peerless accomplishment.” 4 Stars - All Music

Smash is resoundingly adult, intelligent and best of all, musically absorbing.” ****1/2 - ICON Monthly

“Hot? Yes. Filled with many surprises both lyrically and musically? Yes. These are songs about love, loss, anger and pain. There’s a tune about gay marriage with a solid disco vamp in the middle and the title track is particularly visceral, closing with a searing rock guitar solo. The musical proficiency is high here but the levels of emotional intensity and inventiveness are even higher.” ***** - Daily News (McKeesport, PA)

“Patricia Barber's fans get a kick out of hearing the dusky-voiced singer-pianist wade neck-deep in arch romanticism, and she's found a way to make cocktail music that's as fetching as it is strange.” - Time Out Chicago

“…be it love, loss or satire, no one among active jazz performers melds notes and words with the powerful fragility, the delicate incision, the brazen honesty of Patricia Barber. As a pianist and vocalist, she is a force to be reckoned with. As a songwriter, she is pure devastation…Smash is not an album to take you down, but a cycle of songs that remind you that there’s life within pain, stubborn hope within loss, beauty in darkness. And a bright future for the art of jazz singing and songwriting. Patricia Barber has plenty more to say.” - Jazz Police

“Both musically and lyrically, the 12 original tracks on the new disc showcase an artist in fine form. In addition to being a compellingly eclectic tunesmith, Barber remains, as ever, a poetic, exacting lyricist…among the best albums released in recent months.” - Jazziz.com

“Barber’s is an original voice within an original voice.  That is to say her singing voice is like no one else’s and she composes, plays piano and sings tales that are so strongly her own, unique while still being connected to American jazz traditions. That seems like artistry to me.” - International Review of Music

“When I listen to Patricia Barber sing, I think of her not so much as a jazz singer than as a poet reciting her work, with the depth and feeling that only the originator of that work can deliver. A poet who happens to be a technically polished pianist, a clever arranger and bandleader. OK, so it’s perhaps more accurate to state that she’s a great poet who is also a legitimate musician. Kind of astonishing when you consider there are scant few these days who are so good at both anywhere near the field of jazz.” - Something Else!

“Barber says she finds inspiration from poets rather than lyricists, and some of her lines glow with simple beauty.” - Jazz Inside Magazine

“Once again, Barber has taken the road not just less traveled, but far less traveled.” - WNCT-TV

“…go in with your mind engaged.” - Aspen Times

“Musical ideas that defy categorization.” -Audiophile Audition

“…after Barber finishes singing ‘Smash,’ there is a pause, and something new happens. I won’t tell you what occurs, but I will say that it allows ‘Smash’ to stand on its own, as well as act as a partner to ‘Romanesque.’ There are several moments like that on Barber’s album: restrained quartet improvisations placed between stanzas; songs without recapitulations at the end because they just don’t need to be there; and poetic lyrics that dig far deeper than the sentiments of Tin Pan Alley scribes or earnest folk/rock songwriters.” - Jazz History Online

Smash is a delight for any jazz fan. Patricia Barber is one of the best jazz singers to come along in the last twenty years, and her latest release shows why. Fans of Patricia Barber will not be disappointed with this release. While anybody outside the jazz world will probably not be able to appreciate this album, individuals who enjoy jazz music will indeed enjoy Patricia Barber, and will want to own this album. With Smash, Patricia Barber smashes this one out of the park.” - MuzikReview.com

"Now, at last, she takes a headlong dive into the Porter pool and the results make the familiar utterly fresh." - JAZZTIMES

"This is what Patricia Barber has: adventurous piano playing, a low-vibrato alto on perpetual rhythm and timbre alert and smart songs about the way we think and live, not just the way we love… This is the kind of art we need to be on the lookout for everywhere. The 21st century has started. We can't afford to be left behind." -NEW YORK TIMES

"Cross Diana Krall with Susan Sontag, and you get Patricia Barber, whose throaty, come-hither vocals and coolly incisive piano are displayed to devastating effect." -TIME MAGAZINE

"The coolest singer/songwriter around." -LOS ANGELES TIMES

"The Cole Porter Mix isn't just another tribute album; it's a definitive album by Patricia Barber that intrigues, soothes and rewards sharp-eared jazz listeners and is recommended to anyone who wants to hear contemporary jazz singing at its finest. By the way, Barber adds three flawless compositions of her own, and two of them — "I Wait For Late Afternoon And You" and "Snow" — unfold like newly discovered Porter." – ICON MAGAZINE

"Barber's piano chops would stand her in good stead if she ever lost her voice, and this is compelling Porter, but her own writing is still what puts her a cut above the rest of the current field of singing jazz musicians."  BOSTON PHOENIX

" (Patricia Barber is) managing to ride the edge between vanguard music-making and mainstream success." - POPMATTERS.COM

"Leave it to the intrepid Patricia Barber to take on so well-worna songbook as Cole Porter's with such smoldering originality…As usual, Barber's top-notch band delivers a flawless performance… (The Cole Porter Mix) packs all the daring, velvet punch that Barber fans have to come to expect." - CHORDSTRIKE.COM

"The Chicago singer/pianist…(brings) cool savvy to Porter's tunes…" – PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY

"Patricia Barber titled this most enjoyable collection of songs The Cole Porter Mix but she could well have called it what it is: 'Easy to Love.'" – THE ARTSFUSE

PATRICIA BARBER Ms. Barber's verbosity and arch intellectualism are uncommon traits for a jazz singer, and she has sometimes been held at arm's length by wary traditionalists. "The Cole Porter Mix" may change the game a little, with its songbook conceit and a guest turn by the saxophonist Chris Potter. - NEW YORK TIMES

 

Press Articles

Title Publication Date
AllAboutJazz Saturday, March 9, 2013
The International Review of Music Thursday, January 31, 2013
Jazz Police Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Chicago Tribune Friday, January 18, 2013
Something Else Wednesday, January 2, 2013