Patricia Barber: Smash (2013)
Smash, a collection of twelve originals, follows two well- considered live Barber recordings assembled from her Monday night appearances at Chicago's Green Mill: Monday Night (Fast Atmosphere, 2009) and Monday Night Live at the Green Mill, Volume 2 (Fast Company, 2011). On those recordings, Barber displays her impressive piano command and unique approach to the standards as well as her finely-crafted original compositions. On Smash Barber emerges as the fully formed and informed composer with a new approach to jazz impressionism. Think Bill Evans as Mr. Spock.
Lyrically, Smash is confessional look at pain, loss and love, a kind of a musical The Awful Rowing Toward God (Anne Sexton, 1975-posthumous). Refined Beat images emerge in the medical language of "Code Cool" and the auto wreck picture board of the title song. Barber's musical accompaniment is equally impressionistic, if not more so. Her quartet is crack, particularly guitarist John Kregor who lays waste to the extended coda of "Smash" summoning the spirit of Neil Young melting in a fire. He works the same magic on "Scream," that while more integrated and melodic, is equally cathartic.
Smash gratefully arrives out of almost nowhere to push the jazz envelope out a little further.
Track Listing: Code Cool; The Wind Song; Romanesque: Smash; Redshift; Spring Song; Devil's Food; Scream; The Swim; Bashful (Instrumental); The Storyteller; Missing.
Personnel: Patricia Barber: piano, vocals; Larry Kohut: bass; John Kregor: guitar; Jon Deitemyer: drums.
Record Label: Concord Records