Patricia Barber “Nightclub”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#504 in the Series) is Patricia Barber,  Nightclub

A dark , delicious delight of an album.

Take a look through Patricia Barber’s career and you’ll quickly see that she likes to be adventurous and do her own thing, rarely the safe option for her. Most people blessed with a voice and talent like hers would settle for a nice, comfortable career, the easy money. It’s to her credit that she tries not to go down that road too often and it’s her questing spirit which results in wonderful releases like this. It may also be the reason that you might not have heard of her!

The aim on this recording was to capture the vibe and ambience which she reckons can only be found in one of those small jazz clubs, in the wee small hours, when most punters have headed home and only the hard-core remain. Her assertion is that the music created then is special and unique and occurs elsewhere only rarely. At those times, the musicians are playing not for the acclaim nor the paycheck or even for their own ego but simply for the pure love and joy of the music and that’s when the real magic happens.

So, not your average run-of-the-mill album then!

You’d imagine that, short of just going into a club and recording live, this would be pretty damn difficult to recreate in a studio but it speaks volumes for the talents of everyone involved that they pull it off with such apparent ease.

Given all that, the album sounds pretty much as you’d think it would. What we have here is moody, stripped-down, 3 a.m. type stuff, after hours melancholy serenades with a warm heart and a beautifully played lightness of touch. Barber is a superb singer and pianist and the wonderful band follow her in sublime fashion, bending the music around songs of loss, longing and broken hearts (mainly!). For the listener there’s no choice, you simply have to settle back and let it just wash over you, let yourself be taken away, out of your worries and troubles for a while and into the realm of beauty created herein.

Of course, the full album works well, but here’s a brief look at a trilogy of highlights:

•The album opens, in slightly contradictory fashion, with “Bye Bye Blackbird” which serves as a great introduction to what’s in store. Barbers deep, throaty drawl sets the tone:

“make my bed and light the light i’ll be home late tonight”

It’s not long before her sharp piano tones pierce the gloom. The mood’s been set  early for the whole album and the atmosphere and tempo doesn’t vary much from here on in, which is no bad thing.

•”Just For A Thrill” is sparse and evocative with some beautiful guitar snaking through intermittently, a languid shuffle complementing the tale of a discarded lover, still hung-up on someone who couldn’t care less.

•The final track is simply spellbinding, a lesson in twilit grandeur. For the first time on the album Barber sits at the piano unaccompanied and delivers a flawless rendition of “I Fall In Love Too Easily”, perfectly pitched and full of the sadness of lost love. It’s a fitting finale and a worthy ending to such a fine piece of work.

Patricia Barber has made a good few albums now but this one is a standout for me, and,although i stated earlier that she never likes to take the expected route in her career choices, i really wish she’d give in to that for once and give us a sequel to this little beauty of an album. If “Nightclub Volume 2 ” ever appears, you can be sure i’ll be first in the queue !

Stephen Dalrymple, Glasgow, Scotland

Track Listing

Side One

  1. Bye Bye Blackbird  (Dixon/Henderson)  4.01
  2. Invitation  (Kaper/Webster)   4.56
  3. Yesterdays  (Harbach/Kern)   6.39
  4. Just For A Thrill   (Armstrong/Reye)   3.19
  5. You Don’t Know Me  (Arnold/Walker)   3.45
  6. Alfie   (Bacharach/David)   4.49

Side Two

  1. Autumn Leaves  (Kozma/Mercer/Prevert)   5.04
  2. Summer Samba  (Gimbel/Valle/Valle)   3.42
  3. All Or Nothing At All  (Altman/Lawrence)   3.23
  4. So In Love   (Porter)   3.41
  5. A Man & A Woman  (Barouh/Keller/Lai)   4.16
  6. I Fall In Love Too Easily  (Cahn/Styne)   3.29


  • Patricia Barber – Vocals, Piano
  • Michael Arnopol – Bass
  • Adam Cruz – Drums
  • Charlie Hunter – 8 String Guitar
  • Marc Johnson – Bass
  • Adam Nussbaum – Drums


Posted by Stephen Dalrymple
I was so much older then , i'm younger than that now.........

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