Patricia Barber, the performer known for boldly blurring the lines between poetry, jazz, and art song, has released Clique! a new all-standards album in breathtaking DXD and DSD sound.
The long-awaited successor to Nightclub, her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite first all standards album, Clique! features a track list of tunes that Barber has frequently performed as encores throughout her illustrious career, including classics by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stevie Wonder, Lee Hazlewood, Lerner & Loewe, Thelonious Monk and more. Each track renders every inflection of Barber’s voice with astounding presence and clarity, perfectly complementing her nuance in ways that continue to redefine the standards of sound.
After growing an international cult following, earning the first-ever Guggenheim Fellowship awarded to a non-classical songwriter, and becoming an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Patricia Barber is back with a “silk, velvet, languid, warm” journey through music history as she “respects traditions, bends them to make her own points, and freshens them into something new,” as noted in the album liner notes by NPR’s Susan Stamberg.
These are relaxed, communal sessions. Her long-time core duo of bassist Patrick Mulcahy and drummer Jon Deitemyer ride up and down, in and out of Barber’s complex, sensitive playing and reflective singing. The support of her long-term players, along with guitarist Neal Alger and saxophonist Jim Gailloretto allow her to shine brightly while digging out striking moments for their own unique contributions. The chemistry is palpable, all-encompassing. This group’s long-developed synergy—painstakingly curated by these musicians for years—provides both a metaphor and the perfect title for her new album.
Clique! was produced by Patricia Barber and Jim Anderson and recorded at Chicago Recording Company’s Studio 5 by Grammy-winning Recording Engineer and Producer Jim Anderson in Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound DXD. The album was mixed by Anderson at Skywalker Sound and mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering. The album’s Technical Producer is Ulrike Schwarz at Anderson Audio New York. The recording was made using a Horus Analog to Digital Converter with Merging + Clock U in DXD (352.8 kHz) and Pyramix Workstation software, all from Merging Technologies.
Patricia Barber says “The harmonic language of Jazz, as well as that of The Great American Songbook, is certainly rich. Look how much has come of out of it. But it’s circumscribed. I started wanting to hear something else.”
Co Producer Jim Anderson writes “To Patricia Barber fans, One of Patricia Barber’s talents loved by her audience has been not only her compositions and piano playing, but her reinterpretation of well-known standard tunes. In her new release Clique! Patricia reimagines eight classic tunes with her working trio and a couple of her favorite soloists. It is available in Stereo and 5.1 high definition DSD & DXD Surround Sound audio. Enjoy!”
Clique! is exclusively available in Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound DSD 256, DSD 128, DXD plus Stereo DSD 512 and Stereo DSD 1024 at NativeDSD Music. The Stereo DSD 512 and Stereo DSD 1024 editions of Clique! were created by Tom Caulfield at the NativeDSD Mastering Lab from the album’s Stereo DXD masters using the Signalyst HQ Player 4 Pro mastering tools.
Patricia Barber – Piano and Vocals
Patrick Mulcahy – Acoustic Bass
Jon Deitemyer – Drums
Neal Alger – Guitar
Jim Gailloreto – Saxophone
Total time: 00:45:17
|Analog to Digital Converter|
Horus with Merging + Clock U, Merging Technologies
Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering in Portland, ME; Tom Caulfield at NativeDSD Mastering Lab (DXD to DSD 512 and DSD 1024)
|Original Recording Format|
Patricia Barber & Jim Anderson
Chicago Recording Company, Studio 5 in Chicago, IL during January 2019
Pyramix, Merging Technologies
|Release Date||August 6, 2021|
All About Jazz
These time-honored songs, lovingly curated, arranged, and performed by pianist/vocalist Patricia Barber and her band, are at last seeing the light of day when the world needs them more than ever. Pristinely recorded, Clique! assembles what began as encores to live performances into an experience all its own. The album comes out of the same sessions that gave us Higher, which immersed the fortunate listener in a world shaped by art song and poetry, only now shed of its shadows and reveling in the city lights. “This music is fun, like Patricia Barber without the dark side,” is how she describes her project in a recent phone interview. “We’d been booked for four days in the studio but finished Higher in two. Since the band was already there and tight from having been on the road, it was easy for me to pull these out.”
There is indeed an ease that characterizes her vocal delivery of Jobim’s “Samba de Uma Nota Só / One Note Samba” and the Rodgers and Hammerstein bon mot “Shall We Dance?” Appearances by Neal Alger (acoustic guitar) on the former and Jim Gailloreto (tenor saxophone) add to the nostalgia of these familiar grounds, though it’s her core trio, led by the bandleader’s keystrokes, which does much of the heavy lifting. Linked arm in arm with bassist Patrick Mulcahy and drummer Jon Deitemyer, she first croons her way onto the rain-slicked streets of “This Town” as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
“In some ways, I’m a control freak,” Barber admits of her sound. “These are arrangements. This particular group is one I cherish, so everyone gets time to play. So, while it’s stylized, they definitely have an input.” Said input is front and center in “The In Crowd,” which tracks its nerve impulses outwardly from a spinal bass line. In this and “Trouble Is A Man,” Barber shows that her greatest powers as a singer tend to reside in her quietest inflections. From a near whisper, she can elicit deep lyrical and emotional conflicts. Chalk this as another victory for Jim Anderson, whose engineering ensures both fine separation and artful blend. “He just gets better,” says Barber of the producer with whom she has worked for the better part of three decades. “In my music in general, I value silence as much as I value presence, and he’s able to capture that perfectly.”
Even when her voice hangs its hat for an instrumental interlude, Barber ensures that the audience, however virtual, is never forgotten. Whether turning the kaleidoscope of her original “Mashup” or navigating the burnished corridors of Monk’s “Straight No Chaser,” she allows freer energies to occupy the foreground. Notes Barber, “This is a very good representation of what you will hear when you come to see us live. It was true to what this band was playing at the time. We worked very hard on pulling melody away from the rhythm as we know it. It takes a very quiet space and musicians who are listening closely to do that.”
Their synergy is especially apparent on “I Could Have Danced All Night,” in which the drum kit spreads its wings around us as Barber takes a half-lit stage with poise. The sonic whetstone along which she sharpens such tunes is indicative of their unusual choosing. “When people hear ‘standards album,’ they’re expecting the classic American Songbook of the ’30s, but these are from the ’50s and ’60s, one of my favorite eras. I would call it a covers album.” In that spirit, Barber takes the metaphorical connotations of the concept to their fullest, dressing melodies and harmonizing with freshly tailored clothing.
In that respect, one can’t help but hear Clique! and Higher as complementary. Whereas the earlier release broke new harmonic ground for Vocal Jazz music and was the result of six years of writing, here we are treated to a set of comforts we know and love. Barber is acutely aware of the timing as well: “This is a pleasant album to throw on right now, though I am disoriented by having a record come out that I can’t perform with.”
How fortuitous, then, that she should end with Stevie Wonder’s “All In Love Is Fair.” Its sincerity speaks to the heart of the matter and unpacks for us the album’s multivalent title, which Barber picked from among a handful of choices because, in her words, “it sounded like the kind of jazz club you’d want to be a part of.” Thankfully, not even a pandemic can keep us from walking through its doors, taking a seat, and opening our ears to the hope of a brighter future.
Barber’s voice takes center stage with captivating clarity and the highest fidelity.
We’re just past the halfway point of 2021, but I think I’ve already heard my favorite album of the year. On August 6, 2021, Impex Records will release Clique, an album of jazz standards by Patricia Barber in Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound.
Clique was recorded in January 2019, at the same time as Higher, an album of original material based on Barber’s song cycle Angels, Birds, and I . . . .
On Clique, Barber performs songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Stevie Wonder, Lee Hazelwood, Thelonius Monk, and others. Joining Barber are the other members of her current trio—drummer Jon Deitemyer and double bassist Patrick Mulcahy, with guest appearances by guitarist Neal Alger and tenor saxophonist Jim Gailloreto.
Both albums were recorded in multitrack DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition—32-bit/352.8kHz PCM) at the Chicago Recording Company by the husband-and-wife recording team of Jim Anderson and Ulrike Schwarz. Clique was co-produced by Barber and Anderson; Schwarz was technical producer.
Anderson, who has been Barber’s recording engineer for 26 years, has received 11 Grammy Awards, including one for Best Surround Sound Album of 2012: Barber’s Modern Cool. Schwarz, who was a senior sound engineer for Bayerischer Rundfunk from 2001 to 2015, has received multiple awards and nominations, including a Grammy nomination for Best Immersive Audio Album (formerly, the Surround Sound category) in 2020.
After the sessions, Anderson and Schwarz took the recordings back to their home base in Brooklyn, New York, for final edits, then traveled to Skywalker Sound in Marin County, California, where they created the stereo and 5.1 surround-sound mixes. The albums were mastered at Gateway Mastering Studios in Portland, Maine, by Bob Ludwig.
I heard about Clique in early June and heard the album itself a few days later when Impex Records sent me two-channel 32/358.2 DXD files of all nine songs.
I loved Clique! from the moment I cued it up in Roon. Even though Roon was down sampling those files to 24/176.4 (my NAD C 658 streaming DAC maxes out at 24/192 and doesn’t play DXD files), I was blown away by what I heard. All of Barber’s previous recordings by Anderson sound superb, but this one is even better. It’s the most real, most involving sound I’ve ever heard from my system.
Patricia Barber’s new album Clique! is coming out in August 2021. I was lucky to be given an advance HiRes edition by her PR people. The tracks `This Town’, and my favorite track 6, ‘The In Crowd’ in particular impressed me.
‘This Town’ was written by Lee Hazlewood and made famous when sung by Frank Sinatra years ago, but Barber does a unique (her own style) job ending (as did Frank Sinatra, although his voice is very faint and possibly missed by many listeners) with `Bye Bye, bye bye,….’, a lovely touch.
I paid attention to Barber on piano and voice (her voice does not age!), Patrick Mulcahy on (superb) upright bass and Jon Deitemyer with his very tasteful, natural, and well recorded percussion. (And I must mention the others: Neal Alger on acoustic guitar; Jim Gailloretto on tenor sax.)
Barber gives the musicians much freedom (which is one reason I have always enjoyed her approach), and she has a deep connection to them. This recording truly presents its strength in showing off acoustic music recorded in studio, and (besides Barber’s voice) it showed off its ability to get the natural deep bass sound right; it is quite special.
According to the recording notes, Clique! was recorded DXD and mixed on an analog Neve 88 Legacy board. No analog compressor/limiter/eq and/or digital reverb are used in the mix. So, I assume the reverb I hear from Barber’s voice is natural from the studio room.
Highly acclaimed jazz pianist, composer and singer Patricia Barber will be launching a new collection of jazz standards entitled Clique! on August 6, 2021. In the meanwhile, you can pick up the lead single “This Town” from NativeDSD Music.
The track list includes classics such as Thelonius Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser” and “Trouble Is a Man” by Alec Wilder, I had the privilege to audition the entire high-resolution recording. It is well worth it both in terms of musical content and engineering prowess. Special mention should be reserved to Barber’s supporting cast, Patrick Mulcahy on the bass, Jon Deitemyer on the drums, Neal Alger playing acoustic guitar and Jim Gailloreto on tenor saxophone.
Recording guru Jim Anderson along with mastering engineer legend Bob Ludwig created an amazing result, which was to be expected as the two have more than twenty Grammys under their belts. The digital master was created with the state-of-the-art Pyramix system in DXD, meaning 32bit/352.8KHz samples, and it sounds absolutely sublime.
On the production notes one reads “No analog compressor/limiter/eq and/or digital reverb are used in the mix” and you can certainly tell, the album is clear and natural like few others of recent memory. If you are into amazing vocals, excellent musicians, and jazz then Patricia Barber’s new Clique is a must listen.
Patricia Barber is one of the most important forces in the evolving idiom of jazz, as demonstrated in each of her recordings, from her 1989 debut Split to her latest project Clique! that’s set for release on August 6, 2021. Here’s our interview with Barber on The Heather Bambrick Show.
Jazz Album of the Week: Patricia Barber’s Clique!
A Master Class in Reinventing Standards
When you listen to a Patricia Barber album, you’re listening to a jazz album, but that’s not all you’re listening to. Clique, Barber’s first album of standards since 2000’s Nightclub highlights Barber’s fluency within a vast breadth of motifs. And yet, what Barber does is much less about mimicry and so much more about acknowledging well-worn tropes and motifs and molding them to fit a musical worldview that’s very perceptive, intellectually honest, and, at times, compellingly dark.
With a beat poet’s sensibility, Barber’s rhythmic vocal delivery and piano playing are undeniably and unpretentiously cool. Often you get the sense that she exists in the rarefied liminal space between performance poetry and cabaret-style vocal jazz. And yet, her interpretations of pop and jazz standards here, while highly stylized, are sufficiently accessible to be maximally hummable for hours, even days, after listening. For those who appreciate entertainment existing at the intersection of highbrow and middlebrow, Clique is for you.
All of Barber’s accompanying musicians do a thoroughly professional job, but bassist Patrick Mulcahy must be singled out as exceptional. Simultaneously explosive and controlled, he’s like an extension of Barber’s will, or, perhaps more accurately, one of Barber’s myriad musical personalities. His ostinatos—as bouncy and funky as anything I’ve heard issue from an acoustic bass—offer the consummate framing for Barber’s low-vibrato alto and provide the guardrails for a pianism that seeks novel solutions to the musical conflicts she revels in creating.
Barber’s “Mashup,” her lone original here, offers perfect illustration of this last point. Mulcahy’s bass ostinato hooks you immediately, throwing you head-first into the tune’s vibe, while Jon Deitemyer’s drums, like a guided missile, are devastating and precise. Both are great on their own, but, in the context of the group, are especially excellent as foils for Barber’s probing, dissonant chords, which reveal her knack for cultivating tension and artfully finding resolution in ways that aren’t predictable.
And speaking of unpredictable, listen to Barber’s transformations of “Shall We Dance?” and “The In Crowd.” What separates the latter, a Barber-Mulcahy duet, from most other Ramsey Lewis-like retreads of this one is an approach that eschews an ironic, satirical reading in favor of one that is unapologetically faithful to the lyrics’ plain meaning. Because she rejects the temptation to sound cynical, detached, and clever, she transcends the facial absurdity of the lyrics and convinces you that she, in fact, is the coolest thing yet to come down the pike.
Meanwhile, in Barber’s hands, Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s hit from The King and I is treated more cynically. Stripped of its glossy, childlike veneer, the conception of romance that Barber presents here is not blithe or consequence-free but potentially fraught with obstacles, sacrifice, and heartbreak—and, yet it might still be very much worth taking the chance.
Jim Gailloreto’s tenor sax solo breaks the tune into two distinct parts; Barber returns after the interlude less guarded, buoyed with the anticipation of love’s intoxicants yet retaining the firmly planted feet of someone who’s played this game before.
Barber is a gifted vocal stylist and a formidable piano player. But it’s her command of all the subtle, in-between emotional shades that color the human experience and her ability to present all of them through music that makes what she does art. Her take on Lerner and Loewe’s “I Could Have Danced All Night” is a great illustration. For those used to the exhilarating delirium of Julie Andrews’ version, this may be an acquired taste. But Barber’s is noteworthy because it places the classic in a different context. It’s nostalgic, on one hand, but it’s also presented with the benefit of the kind of hindsight earned only after years of life experience.
The Iberian quality of Neal Alger’s acoustic guitar evokes the very retrospective brand of wistfulness that I suspect Barber is going for on “I Could Have Danced;” it’s the right table-setter for the ethereal, kaleidoscopic piano solo that follows.
But Alger is at his best exactly where you think he would be, on Barber’s Portuguese-language rendition of Jobim’s “One Note Samba.” Barber seems totally at ease in Jobim’s native tongue, and Alger’s solo passes on guitar—as well as his accompaniment—are all atmospherically perfect. She’s released this record at the perfect time because this one encompasses everything that goes along with a late-summer evening on the beach. There’s no shame if, with drink in hand, you shed a tear or two wondering where exactly the summer has gone.
The two most promising tunes in terms of high-volume radio play might be Clique’s bookends, “This Town” and “All in Love is Fair.” The former, originally written by Lee Hazelwood for Frank Sinatra’s The World We Knew (1967), is a captivating opener. Barber, with that natural R&B feel, is rhythmically excellent both vocally and instrumentally, and it’s here where we’re introduced to the dialogue between Barber and Mulcahy that will form the backbone of the entire album.
The closer meanwhile, famous as a hit for both Stevie Wonder and Barbara Streisand, is an oft-admired, sparingly attempted vocal crucible with the potential to expose the vulnerable. Barber, however, navigates its challenges with aplomb, closing with a tune that’s as emotionally honest as the opener is strutting and self-assured.
So, which one, you might ask, is the real Barber? The answer must be all of them.
Carrying a chill that could freeze a martini glass and a clipped elegance worthy of Noël Coward in a leather bar, Patricia Barber’s unique voice—and her brand of ever-so-slightly twisted cabaret—has guided her through the Chicago blues and jazz clubs of her beginnings, as well as the rarefied world of museum grants and gallery shows with projects such as a song cycle based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses and art-song pairings with opera diva Renée Fleming.
By comparison with compositional experiments like those, Clique and its collection of disparate covers could seem like a throwaway for Barber. But from its Sensurround production (in Digital eXtreme Definition by Jim Anderson and Ulrike Schwarz) to its sympathetic, intuitive musicianship (her quartet and its elastic rhythm section seem to know just when to halt, buck, and pluck), this album is as deliciously offbeat as any of her magnetic all-original displays.
Talking her way through the intro to Stevie Wonder’s “All in Love Is Fair,” Barber considers the heartbreaking coin-toss consequences of romance with stillness. Once warmed to the dance of chance, she begins to sing-whisper in time with drummer Jon Deitemyer’s brushes, and the brief affair is both stately and pensively erotic. Both Lerner & Loewe’s “I Could Have Danced All Night” and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Shall We Dance?” have their own peculiar brands of timing and pulsation (blame, in part, Barber’s longtime bassist Patrick Mulcahy) through which Barber insinuates her vocals like a particularly bracing bit of theatrical subtext. At first you might not catch every line of “dialogue”; then, 20 minutes later, it’s become gnawingly essential. The same thing is true of Billy Page’s finger-snapping ode to hipness (or insecurity, take your pick), “The In Crowd.” Barber picks up on its less confident elements, finds a lost and isolated character to inhabit, and plays this venerated insider’s club, or clique, like one she wouldn’t dare join if it would stoop so low as to have her for a member.
That said, the listener will want in on every aspect of Patricia Barber’s gamesmanship.
Legendary Jazz Singer/Composer Patricia Barber joins Dean this Sunday Morning to discuss her roots in Jazz music, her origins in Chicago. Keeping busy as a performer during the pandemic, and her newest albums.
Timeless. — Sunday New Standards Playlist
Enthralling, vulnerable, and ethereal classic feel.
Anyone who doesn’t hear just how absolutely superb this recording is, both musically and sonically, is beyond redemption. Clique! is Patricia Barber’s ultimate album. She and her band found that perfect groove and laid down her best total album to date. (…)
If you can only purchase one album in 2021 (and if that’s the case, you have my sympathy), this is the one to get.
Please feel free to give this album a listen on the format of your choice. I think you will be glad you did.
London Jazz News
On Clique!, the Chicago singer-composer has taken tunes you’ve heard a thousand times, refreshed them, and fashioned them into something compelling and new. Nothing sounds hackneyed or has-been. It’s a tradition of re-invention that’s as old as jazz itself but few artists have pulled off the trick quite as successfully as Barber does here.
The result is an extremely true-to-life, intimate, and ultra-refined album. This music is ideal for that quality in sound and vice versa. Placing, timbres, all aspects of the dynamic range and of course the intentions of all audible artists on Clique! come through flawlessly and make the experience of the album more intense. Amiable reference material.
Stage And Cinema
Daring, rhythmic, warming, exciting, and immediately accessible, Clique! has Barber completely reinventing a track list of tunes, including classics by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stevie Wonder, Lee Hazlewood, Lerner & Loewe, Thelonious Monk and more (9 tracks in all).
Barber understands the poetry in the lyrics, and her band follows suit finding poetry in the music with extended sessions. Prepare to hear a slowed-down “I Could Have Dance All Night” that makes you wanna sway with your lover like never before.
This luscious album is Highly Recommended.
Recorded at the same sessions as Higher, Clique is Patricia Barber’s twelfth studio album, and finds her again visiting an eclectic mix of standards from the Great American Songbook and elsewhere. Many of the tunes here have been frequently employed as encores in her live performances. Clique is a trio date featuring Patricia Barber on piano and vocals, Patrick Mulcahy on bass, and John Deitemyer on drums; a couple of tunes get fleshed out with appearances by Neal Alger on acoustic guitar and Jim Gailloreto on tenor saxophone. And Clique is her first record since 2000’s Nightclub that consists entirely of covers—well, mostly—more on that in just a bit.
Considering that the album was recorded using the Horus/Pyramix system from Merging Technologies in DXD, then mixed on an all-analog Neve console with no compression, limiting, EQ, or digital reverb — I wanted to hear the DXD files.
So how does Clique sound in high resolution DXD? My initial response (stolen from Stereophile’s John Atkinson) in my notes was gob smacked — that was very quickly followed by “this is easily the finest sounding digital file in my library of over 3,500 albums!”
One of the great things about flat-panel loudspeakers like the Magneplanars is that when properly set up, they’ll display a realistically wide and deep soundstage. Meaning Patricia Barber and company are occupying a believable space in my listening environment. Close your eyes, and you feel like you can reach out and touch the players in front of you.
Jim Anderson did a great job capturing the performances on Clique, and on a great system, you’ll be stunned by the realism and unbridled dynamic range of the recording. When Patricia Barber sings, it’s as though she’s really in the room with you!
Clique is an exceptional recording; one of those rare events where all elements of the creative process amalgamate to yield a record of perfect performances and technical brilliance. An SACD copy of the album is on its way here but didn’t show up in time for inclusion in the review. This album is being made available in a multitude of formats, but as great as the DXD files are, I don’t see how you could go wrong if your DAC/streaming setup is capable of DXD’s very high level of resolution.
Very highly recommended!
This is good stuff! Recorded by Jim Anderson. This guy knows what he is doing.
NativeDSD Technical Advisor
I was listening to Clique! in Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound yesterday. A real standout. No surprise that it is the #1 DSD Best Seller at NativeDSD this weekend.
Fans of Patricia Barber’s Nightclub may want to check out her forthcoming Clique! release. It is available at NativeDSD in 24/352.8 DXD and all flavors of DSD.
A fantastic recording all around.
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