Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

May/June 2013: George Benson

Patricia Barber

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Without question, Chicago-based pianist, vocalist, composer and bandleader Patricia Barber is one of the most passionate and eloquent artists on the scene today. When she is not maintaining a weekly Monday night gig with her quartet at the Green Mill in Chicago, she is constantly touring throughout all parts of the world, and on June 18 she will make a stop here in Winnipeg to perform as part of this year’s TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.

Barber’s music is often centred around her voice, frequently whispering in her low register, and she incorporates many stylistic elements of the blues. Her passionate, intelligent and insightful lyrics easily make her one of the most compelling singers on the circuit today.

Her piano playing, both soloing and accompanying herself, is accomplished and virtuosic in its own right. Musically, there is incredible communication within her quartet, which allows both Barber and her bandmates to improvise freely. As if all that weren’t enough, Barber is a gifted composer—she received a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship in the “Creative Arts—Music and Composition” field in 2003.

Barber’s discography (which includes two full albums of music from her time at the Green Mill) was expanded again this past January, with the release of Smash, her sixteenth album as a leader. In her own words, Smash is her continued “crusade to retrieve the ground that jazz musicians long ago ceded to pop and rock: the realm of the intelligent singer-songwriter, tackling even familiar subjects (like love and loss) with a nuance and depth beyond the limits of the Great American Songbook.”

When she performs here in June, Patricia Barber shares the stage with three other excellent musicians: Dave Miller on guitar, Patrick Mulcahy on bass, and Jon Deitemyer on drums. To put it simply: if you’ve already made plans for the evening of June 18, you should probably cancel them, and come see this concert!

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