Sunday, December 12, 2010


Tonight I saw Patricia Barber at the Jazz Standard in New York City. The club is a nice little club and it sounds very good.
When we first walked in actually we were going to sit close to the stage but then it occurred to me that we'd be in an acoustical "dead spot" and perhaps further from the stage would be better. The waiter suggested up by the bar would be better because there (hid in the "rafters") was a delayed speaker system which actually made the bar area sound really good, but at reasonable volumes.
I think that was the right decision because otherwise the experience would have been "Jazz drum concerto backed by Patricia Barber and others".
This is not the band I saw her with. I just got this from a website somewhere.
I felt she sounded much better live than I'd heard her on record. She had a backup band that I'll call, for lack of a better name, "Three Skinny White Guys With Black Shirts and Jeans". The performance had a nice feeling to it, which I suppose is the whole point of jazz. Her voice is great. My only complaint is that her mic technique seems to be in inverse proportion to how great a singer she is. I would put another large-diaphragm microphone about 2 1/2 to 3 feet away from her, tell her it's for the piano, and use it as the main microphone for her voice. It seemed like even that close-mic'ed "throaty" sound she does so well would come across with a nice U47 a couple feet away. Even live. She actually sounded best to me when she sang totally off-axis to her vocal microphone (which I didn't recognize.)
Interestingly the drums were mic'ed by a single Neumann cardioid behind the drummer's head. Yep, I was the dorkmeister who went up to the sound guy afterward and asked him about that mic. He said it was primarily for the recording but that a bit of it went into the PA system. I asked him if there were any issues with the drummer himself getting in-between the mic and the drums and he allowed as how he didn't think so. I suspect that the mic was actually just far away enough and with a wide enough pattern that it really didn't matter.
The set felt very organic. I think if you were going to the show to hear some particular song by Patricia Barber you'd likely be disappointed. But the one thing which impressed me greatly is the musical patience she has. As an artist she's willing to take her time and not rush things in order to "put on a show".


  1. OK, but the disturbing resemblance to Sarah Palin disappears when you get closer to her, right?

  2. I like to think she looks like Tina Fey.

    Actually, when I saw her I didn't think she looked like either of them at all. But yeah, looking at this photograph, she does.


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