Patricia Barber: Chicago’s Jazz Chanteuse

With voice, words, and piano, Patricia Barber delivers both intelligence and a sense of composure.  It’s hard to describe Barber’s music: someone has suggested that Diana Krall meets Joni Mitchell comes close.  She is a singular jazz singer and pianist, but for the last few years it is her songwriting that has been attracting big attention.  In concert, she confides by whispering a song of sweet nothings into the listener’s ear, then surprises with a rock-edged and trashy song about a one-night stand.  She comes across more street-smart than book-smart.

For close to fifteen years, the Chicago-based singer/pianist has led her own band, toured tirelessly and is now, in every sense of the word, a success.  She has recorded a series of utterly original and critically acclaimed albums, including the highly successful Live: A Fortnight in France.  Although the album was made during her band’s tour of France, Barber describes the songs in this album as derived from her ongoing performances at the Green Mill Lounge in the very gritty Uptown neighborhood of Chicago.

CHICAGO’S GREEN MILL LOUNGE

PATRICIA BARBER: GOTCHA’ (FROM LIVE: A FORTNIGHT IN PARIS)

In 2003, Barber received a Gugenheim Fellowship, the first popular songwriter to have received that award.  The Gugenheim provided her with the financial support and time to write a jazz song cycle.  The result is perhaps the most accessible music of her career.  This eleven-song cycle is entitled Mythologies and is based upon The Metamorphoses of Ovid, the centuries-old classic of Western literature, filled with gods, mortals and apparently, humor.  Selections from the new album are presented here:

PATRICIA BARBER: SONGS FROM MYTHOLOGIES

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