Nightclub. That album takes me away to another place.
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I don't think there is a bad Barber recording -- each has its special merits. I own all of her releases, and find myself attracted to one or the other, based on my listening mood. Of her various recordings, the one I'd recommend to someone who has none of her work is "Nightclub". It has great sonics, and the performances have a bit more energy and flair due to recording before a live audience.
Yeah I don't type all that well at 2:30am after being subjected to an hour and a half of critically acclaimed Pseudo-Jazz. There are so many great singers and pianists out there that I see know reasonfor her popularity except for that Stereophile says her albums are well recorded. I sum up my experiences saying that she has the type of voice that makes you think she is singing the same note all the time and the only relief she could find from her own contrived one dimensional "hey look at me I'm Keith Jarrett (sans technique and harmonic invention)" piano stylings was to literally attack the string of the Steinway with her dinnerware. Pat, Cecil Taylor you are not. At least Britney Spears is good looking.......
To Czbbcl: The Chicago night club is The Green Mill, where Companion was recorded. The club is on the north side, at Lawrence Avenue (4800 North, if you know Chicago) near one of the El lines close to Lake Michigan. It's been there a long time, actually started as a speakeasy, as I recall, and may have been connected to Al Capone. A great spot that usually features local jazz talent, of which there is, of course, plenty.
To all those who are high on this singer: She is one I can admire and respect for trying a different approach, but I simply don't connect emotionally. Cold and, to borrow another responder's word, calculated, perhaps even contrived, immediately come to mind. Still, I have several CDs, largely because of the superb engineering by the great Jim Anderson (Look for the jazz recordings, especially the vinyl versions, he did with various performers, e.g., Paul Bley, Junior Cook, Walter Davis) on the Steeplechase label.) If you want great jazz singing and great sound, look for virtually anything by the vastly underrated Mary Stallings, a San Francisco resident, on Groove Note LPs or the recent release (on a different label, I believe) of her in performance at the Village Vanguard in New York. Or better yet, forget the sound, and go listen to everything ever recorded by Billie Holliday!
At least part of my post was probably poorly worded, as these things tend to be when done in haste during the course of the work day. I bought the CDs because I was initially impressed by Ms. Barber's work & a style which was anything but run-of-the-mine. Unfortunately I've found that over the long haul there really is too much "style" and not enough substance, especially emotionally, for my taste. Unfortunately that pretty much leaves only the outstanding sonics and the fact is I don't listen to these recordings anymore. There is no doubt in my mind that the build-up of interest in this singer in audiophile circles largely began because of the buzz about the recording quality, "Cafe Blue" in particular, and I'm not at all certain this factor can be separated from the mix at this point.
By the way you should have read my ENTIRE post, especially the very last sentence, before suggesting that I find another hobby. Since Billie, whose work I listen to regularly, began recording in the mid-1930's and last did so in the late 1950's, you might have been able to deduce that recording quality is NOT the driving force in my choice of recordings.
And my point about Mary Stallings is that she is an unjustly neglected (To some degree of her own choosing, since until recently she wanted to stick to the SF Bay area while she raised a family.) jazz singer who also has been blessed with excellent sonics on her recorded output. (Actually this is no accident with regard to the Groove Note label which specializes in high quality recordings of talented, relatively unknown and/or under-recorded artists, e.g., Jacintha, Jay McShann, in addition to Ms. Stallings. This apparently works well for both the label, which gets the performers for a relatively low cost, and for the musicians who get greater exposure.)
Finally, let us remember that this is after all an audiophile site!