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Modern Cool

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Album Review

The dark, smoky voice of Patricia Barber is quite haunting. On Modern Cool, she mostly sings downbeat songs at slow tempos. All but three songs are her own originals, and they deal with such subject matter as an "homage to beauty" that seems to connect painting one's face with prostitution, loneliness, mindless conformity, the "Postmodern Blues," and other such topics. Barber, whose piano playing is mostly very much in the background, comes across on this set as a pop/folk singer. Most of the jazz moments are provided by trumpeter Dave Douglas, who is on half of the selections and adds some excitement; guitarist John McLean, bassist Michael Arnopol, and drummer/percussionist Mark Walker complete the group.

Customer Reviews

Blows Away Her Peers

Patricia Barber brings more to the table than any of her so-called "peers" who might be selling more CDs (Diana Krall and Norah Jones spring to mind--Krall has the legs; Jones has . . . well, I'm not sure what. . .). Subtle, quiet, and understated, while, at the same time, very much in-your-face lyrically ("Touch of Trash" & "Company"); great piano throughout, excellent use of other instruments (Dave Douglas on trumpet, in particular); a couple of "classics" turned on their ear ("Light My Fire" & "She's a Lady"); off-beat percussion and rhythms ("Winter" & "You & the Night & the Music"). The total package. She can deliver a song like nobody else, and this CD is far and away the best presentation of her strengths. A hybrid of Shirley Horn's elegance with Cassandra Wilson's understated energy. The Total Package. . . .

PB Jams

Lucky me, I discovered PB in an electronics store while shopping for a TV and surround sound system. The salesman used this CD to demonstrate how great Kef speakers are, all I cared about was who was singing. Yeah, the speakers were pretty awesome too. I especially love Light My Fire and Let it Rain. Nora Jones and Diana Krall - look out!

It is cool

Great album. Her version of Light My Fire, and the guitar and trumpet solos on that cut is/are wonderful.


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 through the Chicago jazz scene slowly,...
Full Bio
Modern Cool, Patricia Barber
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Customer Ratings