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Verse


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Audio CD, August 27, 2002
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Biography

From her early days leading a jazz trio in small Chicago nightclubs, Patricia Barber has drawn extravagant accolades. The praise came at first from local writers, impressed by her unique arrangements and coolly composed piano improvisations. As she added vocals to her repertoire, the praise poured in from national reviewers intoxicated by her recordings. And when (after years of international ... Read more in Amazon's Patricia Barber Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 27, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • ASIN: B00006C2CC
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,811 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Moon
2. Lost In This Love
3. Clues
4. Pieces
5. I Could Eat Your Words
6. The Fire
7. Regular Pleasures
8. Dansons La Gigue
9. You Gotta Go Home
10. If I Were Blue

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Patricia Barber has made enough breakout albums to be brought up on charges. Her career, not to mention her music, has been like a giant rainbow arcing eternally upward with bursts of bright giddy colors and dark moody tones. But like her last album, Nightclub, and before that Companion and Modern Cool, this is the one that will bring her a bigger audience. The difference here is that this is the singer-pianist's first album of all original songs. With Dave Douglas dancing his trumpet around her witty and literate tales, these 10 scholarly vignettes are reminiscent of the way the great Cole Porter educated his listeners while thoroughly twisting the English language in an irresistibly entertaining way. "I Could Eat Your Words" is about philosophy, cooking, and falling in love with your college professor. In it she somehow can "suck the salt from erudition, drink remorse like a cabernet, sweeten with equivocation" and still swing. Many singers would still be stuck on "erudition" while Barber--all sly, darkly slick, and witty--continues to compose from a high artistic perch. Mentioning David Hockney, Edward Hopper, and Goya in the text of "If I Were Blue," and Baudelaire in "You've Gotta Go Home," ain't no easy trick. --Mark Ruffin

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By N. Dorward on January 8, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I've been in the past intrigued by Barber's work even though it hadn't always clicked for me, & I hadn't been strongly impressed by the two last discs, _Companion_ & _Nightclub_ (the latter a set of standards so low-key as to be ultimately rather dull). So _Verse_ came as something of a surprise, one of her most fully satisfying albums. Read on the page her lyrics can be a bit arch and over-literary (her enthusiasm for ee cummings is an ominous sign), but as a singer she manages to give them a slightly veiled delivery which puts them over very nicely. She's got a terrific band here--Dave Douglas & Joey Baron are the stars of course, & there's her regular bassist Michael Arnapol, but the real standout is guitarist Neal Alger, whom I've not come across before. He's really the main person responsible for the textures & coloration here much of the time, since Barber herself only plays piano on a few tracks.
There are some stunningly strange moments on the album--the weightless opening of "The Moon", the mournful echoing guitar & tiny shards of a distant string orchestra on "Clues"--as well as some attractive grooves, often in Barber's favourite off-kilter time-signatures (5 and 7). The one dud for me is "The Fire", which seems to me an attempt to work in the territory of short-story writers like Raymond Carver--it's a bit too cliched in its portrayal of a suburban housewife's ennui to work, I think, & the music is nearly static.
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47 of 55 people found the following review helpful By G. D. Geiss on September 22, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Clearly, I will be in the minority on this, but I do not like this disc. It pains me to admit that, since I count myself as a confirmed Patricia Barber fan. In fact, I like it so little that I considered a two star rating, opting in the end for three based on my overall faith in Ms. Barber's talent. I just don't think she consistently shows that talent here. If you are pretty much a mainstream jazz listener who found Pat Barber fascinating in the past for her edgy, minimalist , ironic writing and playing, I think you would be well served to be a bit cautious about this effort.
This is the first disc where Ms. Barber wrote all the music. What that means is that you get precious little melody. Even in her best work: "Touch of Trash", "What a Shame", "Let it Rain", there is not a strong melodic presence. On past albums that have featured her songs, though, this was balanced by her inventive, idiosyncratic adaptations of others' melodies like "Use Me Up", "Ode to Billy Joe", or "You, the Night, and the Music". The steady diet of atonality here is hard to like. You can respect it for its intellectual bite, but it's hard to like it. Even harder to like are the unwelcome excesses of trumpeter Douglas.
Under these circumstances, the "verse" of the title carries a heavy load. Sadly, in my view, it's not consistently up to the task. Mostly, it lacks the concrete, edgy irony and sharp wit of her best work. It seems, at times, almost like earlier, less mature work that she's gotten brave enough to put out. At its worst it degenerates into sophomoric, beat era coffee shop listing.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Davis on September 4, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Wow! What a wonderful experience. Patricia Barber has taken her art to a higher level on "Verse". Being a fan of her previous work, I was excited to learn that this project would contain all original songs. Previous recordings, "Cafe Blue" and "Modern Cool" gave us plenty of glimpses into Barber's song writing capabilities. These songs have some of the most interesting lyrics I have heard in a long time. They are brought to life by music that uses space and odd timbre to lift the vocals to an almost visual level. You can see the paintings that each song sketches. This is high-end art. This music comes at you from several different directions. At one moment you are trapped in the wonderfully twisted lyrics and the next minute you are completely intrigued by the excellent music. It doesn't hurt that the musicians used on "Verse" are first rate exploratory Jazz artist. Barber's piano is as warm and vibrant as ever, but her singing is absolutely beautiful. The contrast between her voice and Dave Douglas' trumpet will give you goose bumps. There is a dark and introspective quality to this music that brings to mind Joni Mitchell's "Hejira" recording from the late 70's. All ten of these songs are wonderful - so it is not possible to pick a favorite. Each composition contains its own halo of beauty. If you are tired of warmed over standards and need a new vibe - pick up "Verse." This music is refreshing, stimulating and beautiful. Great job Patricia - you have created a modern classic.
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