Patricia Barber Nightclub (Blue Note/Premonition)
Nightclub (Blue Note/Premonition)
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Oct. 13, 2000
Nightclub (Blue Note/Premonition)Chicago couldn't keep Patricia Barber a secret forever. When the pianist/vocalist finally blipped on the radar screen of national jazz consciousness with 1998's brilliant Modern Cool, it was with devilish élan and plenty of dark, brooding attitude. These qualities were most evident on her strikingly original tunes, but have been noticeably tempered on this new set of mostly well-worn standards and pop tunes. As the title implies, this is music meant to convey an intimate, after-hours ambience, one that feels right at home to Barber from her many years of holding court at such Chi-town ginhouses as the famed uptown Green Mill. With much of the overt edginess rounded off, one might wonder if a set like this doesn't play on the phenomenal success of that other pianist/vocalist, Diana Krall. Barber, to her credit, stays clear of Krall's chipper vivacity, adhering to the palpable air of moodiness, vulnerability, and measured irony in her thoughtful interpretations. This is late-night candlelight music to be sure. Though Barber is a superlative and intelligent instrumentalist, there's not a lot of room for her to stretch here, despite the fact she creates an evocative piano-trio sound within her chosen parameters. She splits the set between her working band and former rhythm mates, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Adam Nussbaum, from 1992's A Distortion of Love. Guitarist Charlie Hunter adds variety on several tracks as well. In playing this one straight on, Barber may well be telling us she's not a one-trick pony.