Ron "Ran" Waite Wing

In Concert: Patricia Barber

Patricia Barber and link

In Concert: Patricia Barber
by Ran

The Mt. Gretna Playhouse is located in the woods at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in southeast Pennsylvania. Music at Gretna produces and presents indoor and outdoor concerts of world-class classical music and jazz in the summer. It was in this serene setting, on July 22, 2006, that I had the incredible opportunity to enjoy an eloquent evening of progressive jazz with OUT performer Patricia Barber. Patricia Barber is an acclaimed singer-pianist-composer and one of the few jazz musicians to ever be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

The Chicago-native finally entered the stage with three accompanying musicians: Michael Arnopol on bass, Neal Alger on guitar and Erik Montzka on drums. Sitting down at the grand piano, she stretched, kicked off her sandals and 

immediately launched into a lively cover of a Miles Davis instrumental jazz piece. In the middle of the piece, she threw her head back and yelled "Yeah!"

I may have come to see Patricia Barber, but what I actually saw was an "ensemble" of incredibly talented musicians. These are serious musicians who worked well together. They gave each other rapt attention while the others played and sincere applause for each other's music. What I enjoyed the most about this performance was that it was about the music, not any one personality. Patricia may have written a number of the tunes and her talent was the draw, but she was able to sit back, tickle the ivories and watch the magic happen. And happen it did! Together they weaved intricate melodies for us to enjoy. These musicians were all thoroughly engaged in the music. I felt as if they could actually feel the music as they played was a pleasure to watch them. A couple of times I even noticed Patricia leaning into the piano, plucking the strings, creating a different sound. Patricia tapped her feet and punctuated the songs with her hands: moving her fingers along with the rhythms, tapping, pointing, and clapping. This womyn obviously enjoys her work; she had a smile on her face throughout most of the evening. Alas, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Ms. Barber is also an incredible vocalist. She sings beautifully and effortlessly.

The instrumental pieces were wonderful, but my favorite pieces of the entire evening were the tunes with vocals, which she had modified to fit her slow and smoky style. She performed a sultry cover of Bill Wither's hit "Use Me" and sang the wonderful "Summer Samba" from her "Nightclub" CD. I also enjoyed the light-hearted Patricia Barber tune entitled "Hunger," and her composition "If I Were Blue" from her "Verse" CD. In between each song, during the applause, Patricia mouthed the words "Thank you" to the audience. She thanked the audience, numerous times, for coming out on this hot and muggy night to listen to "us."

After the band's well-deserved standing ovation, Patricia came back, solo, and thrilled us with an encore: the reworked Disney classic "When You Wish Upon a Star." This topped off the evening with yet another magical moment.

This unique talent is online at  I have enjoyed her talents for years; I hope that you will too!

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