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The Cole Porter Mix

3.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 16, 2008
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Sublimely intimate but hugely expressive investigation of the brilliant songs of Cole Porter by the wonderfully artful singer/pianist and composer Patrica Barber. She breathes fresh life into his music as well as contributing three typically intelligent originals. Like her label mate Wilson, Barber is a genuine one off and Cole Porter Mix is un-missable. "One of the most accomplished female jazz singer-pianists on the planet. Chicago-based Barber has a voice that caresses and challenges and cajoles and taunts and teases every nuance of meaning from each ambiguous syllable". The Guardian "Even a casual listener would soon be won over by her seductive voice, her forceful soloing and, not least, her immaculate quartet arrangements". The Times "The most fearless, most intellectually stimulating and, by extension, most interesting singer-songwriterpianist on the American jazz scene." JazzTimes For more than two decades, Barber, based in Chicago, has led her own band and released a series of highly acclaimed, strikingly singular albums, that have seen her recognised as one of the greatest songs tylists on the planet. For her latest album, singer/pianist Barber applies her austere but beautiful heartfelt expressiveness to breath new life into the music of one of the Great American Songbook composers. The Cole Porter Mix not only spotlights her artful interpretations of Porter's songs but also features three Porter-inspired originals. "Cole Porter has always been my songwriting idol," says Barber. "I love his music and I've been singing his songs for so many years." 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, while tenor saxophonist Chris Potter guests on five tracks. Barber plays piano throughout as well as contributes melodica colours to some tunes, including her gem, "The New Year's Eve Song," that closes the album. Another original on The Cole Porter Mix is the

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Leave it to the intrepid Patricia Barber to take on so well-worn a songbook as Cole Porter’s with such smoldering originality. Of course, for 15 years now, Barber has been something of an Ella Fitzgerald meets the madwoman-in-the-attic, a sheen of peerless respectability masking an uncompromising taste for the respectfully subversive. With 2006’s seminal Mythologies, Barber took the Guggenheim and ran with it, planting one foot in Ovid and the other in Harlem. Here, her unflappable taste for danger takes her deep into the Porter oeuvre. But in Barber’s hands, every old familiar lyric takes on new and usually devious entendre. Delivered in her heavily honeyed timbre, shopworn standards like "I Get a Kick Out of You" (with its new chord structure) and "You’re the Top" (with its new lyrics) suggest the fecund extra layers that their titles--generously interpreted--imply. As usual, Barber’s top-notch band delivers a flawless performance. If the arrangements lean a bit heavily on the sax, it’s because one doesn’t record with Chris Potter and not give the guy some breathing room. "I asked Chris if he ever plays schmaltzy," Barber explains. "He said no, but he could if I wanted him to." And so he does, not least on "The New Year’s Eve Song," the album’s closer and one of three Barber originals included here. Despite the self-admitted "hubris" involved in including her own material amidst this most canonical set list, the gamble pays off (check out the incomparable "Snow"). Since Patricia Barber has never been interested in mere nostalgia anyway, the result is an album that--although it looks at first glance like a relaxing sinecure--packs all the daring, velvet punch that Barber fans have to come to expect. And (more importantly) to trust. --Jason Kirk

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Product details

  • Audio CD (September 16, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B001CAPDUY
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,840 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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