Review - Companion

Artist: Patricia Barber

Gifted jazz vocalist and keyboardist Patricia Barber demonstrates modern cool on this impressive live document, re-corded last summer at Green Mill, her unofficial home base in Chicago. Yeah, the idea of messing with Sonny and Cher's "The Beat Goes On" and Santana's "Black Magic Woman" is something of a sly goof, but these versions are warm, deeply personal and anything but cheap shots.

Barber similarly reinvents Bill Withers' soul torcher "Use Me," built on a chewy acoustic bass riff. The singer is an in-spired lyricist, too, stabbing at empty feel-goodism on "Let It Rain" ("Can't you make those downtown-hopping, grocery-hopping, perky, plodding cheerful folks go away?" ) and painting an evocative portrait on "If This Isn't Jazz." "If this isn't jazz," she intimates, "it will have to do, until the real thing comes along." It just did.

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