Fender Rhodes; Michael Arnopol, bass; Neal Alger, guitars; Dave
Douglas, trumpet; Joey Baron and Eric Montzka, drums – Mobile Fidelity
UDSACD 2027 – Stereo-only Hybrid SACD – 52 min. *****:
I have to give Patricia Barber credit – she goes her own way. She
refuses to follow most of the scripted jazz conventions and writes most
of her own material, and on the rare occasion when she covers a tune,
it’s usually not anything that’s ever been previously given any kind of
jazz treatment. Her vocal style, in which she often nearly speaks the
lyrics (rather than singing them), may not appeal to everyone. But her
records are virtual audiophile gardens of delight – each successive
song is a case study in unusual and often sparse instrumentation,
employing unconventional meters and time signatures and strange
rhythms. This excellent disc from Mobile Fidelity is no exception, and
will only help cement her mystique among her rabid and loyal fan base.
The performance is pure Barber – and the sound quality, as delivered by
MoFi, is sensational. This is one of those discs that, as good as the
Red Book CD portion of the disc is – the SACD stereo layer is light
years beyond it in every aspect of the recorded sound. Bass is nearly
stentorian – this disc will shake your walls! The SACD layer has a
presence and palpability about it that is so true to life you’d swear
Patricia Barber is in your listening room. I almost constantly felt the
need to check my center channel and surrounds to make sure that nothing
was coming from them – this disc paints a broad and deep soundstage,
with PB firmly anchored in the middle.
The supporting cast is superb, especially guitarist Neal Alger and
trumpeter Dave Douglas, whose often sparse runs and fills contribute
extensively to the unique palette from which Patricia Barber paints her
abstractions. This disc is not to be missed!
Tracks: The Moon; Lost In This Love; Clues; Pieces; I Could Eat Your
Words; The Fire; Regular Pleasures; Dansons La Gigue; You Gotta Go
Home; If I Were Blue.
— Tom Gibbs