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Album Review

Pianist/vocalist Patricia Barber's recording debut, Split, is a fairly straight-ahead affair featuring the idiosyncratic stylist on various standards and originals. Showcasing her unique approach to jazz, the album finds Barber mixing pointed and minimalist lines à la Chet Baker with a dramatic cabaret vocal style and complex harmonic post-bop passages — a template that longtime fans will recognize. To these ends, Barber opens with a brisk Latin version of "Early Autumn," takes a dusky vocal turn on "Easy to Love," and shows her cerebral side on such originals as "Winter Illusion." Joining Barber here are bassist Michael Arnopol and drummer Mark Walker. [Originally released on Floyd Records in 1989, Koch reissued the disc in 2004.]

Biography

Born: 1956 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Patricia Barber's unique style and unusual voice made her an easy target for critics in the early days of her career. Her piano playing and singing, while inventive, never ventured close enough to the avant-garde to earn her artistic license, and her insistence on writing her own material and adapting songs from the pop world made her difficult to categorize. A tireless performer who refused to conform to more conventional vocal jazz idioms, she worked her way up...
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Split, Patricia Barber
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Contemporaries