Patricia Barber: Higher
Impex Records IMP8322
In our first full collaboration with jazz royalty Patricia Barber, Impex Records is thrilled to announce our premier multichannel audio SACD/Hybrid disc of her elegant new album Higher. Recorded and mixed by long-time collaborator Jim Anderson, this spectacular set contains a unique eight jazz-interpreted art-song cycle that explores the mysteries that bind and illuminate us. Barber says of her six-year creation of Higher, “I feel very much that this album is a manifestation of my hard-won harmonic evolution.” She continues her blending of classical and modern idioms, both musical and lyrical, into a hybrid that plays to the best of both: classically-oriented with room to improvise and expand.
The Impex Records exclusive SACD version contains four additional tracks: jazz standards “Early Autumn”, “Secret Love” and “In Your Own Sweet Way”, along with an expanded version of “The Opera Song” featuring lyric soprano Katherine Werbiansky. Both 5.1 and 2.0 SACD layers were transferred directly to DSD from original DXD (352.8kHz / 32 bit) files for astonishing reproduction of every living note and subtle expression in this truly seminal work by one of America’s finest jazz auteurs.
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Review by Mark Werlin - December 31, 2020
“Higher” took several years to reach its destination. With financing through the nonprofit organization ArtistShare and the donations of individual funders, songwriter-singer-pianist Patricia Barber rehearsed and recorded an eight-song cycle of new compositions with her working group of Patrick Mulcahy, bass, and John Deitemeyer, percussion, augmented by former group member, guitarist Neal Alger and frequent live collaborator, saxophonist Jim Gailloreto. At the board was Barber’s longtime engineer Jim Anderson.
After an initial run of CDs for ArtistShare donors and a special release in DXD and DSD downloads on the NativeDSD site, Patricia Barber’s most recent album finally arrives on multichannel SACD.
The song cycle, entitled "Angels, Birds and I...", expresses Patricia Barber's poetic sensibility through the vehicle of literary language wedded to contemporary art music. Though she never refers to her lyrics as poetry, her verses capture the experience of the senses and the workings of a creative imagination.
In addition to the new original songs, the Impex SACD contains a short set of standards drawn from Barber’s live repertoire. An instrumental version of Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” brings focus to her technical dexterity and highly personal piano conception.
“Early Autumn” captures the trio in delicate shades of expression. With subtle brushwork and cymbal accents from drummer Deitemeyer, and an unobtrusive, supportive foundation from bassist Mulcahy, the ensemble updates the classic jazz piano trio for the 21st century. Barber is an outstanding interpreter of songs from the late 1940s. “Early Autumn” was composed by Woody Herman’s pianist-arranger Ralph Burns and the great lyricist Johnny Mercer. Mercer’s melancholy lyrics convey the distance between the romanticized images of love and the growing alienation of mid-century America. The song had fallen into obscurity, but Patricia Barber’s moving performance should lead to its revival.
"Higher" was recorded in 2019 in DXD 352.8. With this release, SACD collectors can enjoy the superb quality of Jim Anderson’s recording, and, like the ArtistShare funders who made the production possible, show support for Patricia Barber’s lifelong project to advance the art of the song.
Copyright © 2020 Mark Werlin and HRAudio.net