Patricia Barber has a voice that’s ominous, rich, and stunningly clear. It also carriers great power — like the ability to make people like jazz who once didn’t.
Her album, “Café Blue,” seems like the perfect background music for a trendy coffee house or upscale restaurant. But, halfway through the first track, it won’t be an afterthought — you’ll be enthralled. The high-fidelity instrumentals and Barber’s vocal clarity will have you swiveling around in your chair, looking for the live jazz performers who aren’t there. The sound is just that rich and clear.
Barber’s compelling voice and lean piano are framed by otherworldly instrumentals from guitarist John McLean, bassist Michael Arnopol, and percussionist Mark Walker.
Beautifully produced and recorded, the audio quality (especially in subsequent audiophile re-issues) is worthy of the best audio equipment to reproduce the sound originally intended. Not to revel in the audio splendor, but because any notion of “audio” will evaporate as Barber’s musical poetry massages your ear drums and heightens your emotional state.
“Originally, I wasn’t a huge jazz fan, but Patricia Barber’s ‘Café Blue’ opened that door for me. It’s one of my top jazz favorites. Every song on this album offers a high level of fidelity, which has made it my go-to, both for musical satisfaction and showing off the capabilities of a high-performance audio system.” — Mel Mesick, Seattle showroom
The Track You Won’t Want To Miss:
The two-chord vamp and angular melody on the opening track, “What a Shame,” croons a timeless lament of a love lost. As much as you might be familiar with the story of “Ode to Billy Joe,” wait until you hear Patricia Barber tell it with minimal accompaniment (bass and finger snap, à la Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” but without any sauce).
“Inchworm” — another track on the album — is turned into a hip jazz waltz that, like many great jazz recordings, uses minimal material to create many possibilities.
Another unforgettable track, “Too Rich for My Blood” is brooding and bluesy. Barber starts off low and then soars, taking listeners to a higher elevation. It’s nearly too rich for our blood, too, but it brings you back down to earth just in time for your next sip of cabernet.
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