Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Barber, Patricia, pianist and vocalist; b. Chicago, Illinois, 1956. Her father was Floyd Shim Barber, a saxophonist who had played with Glenn Miller. , born 1900, died 1964. Her mother is Marguerite Sylvia Barber Orton, born 1919. Her sisters are Ann Barber (died of cancer in the late 1990s; memorialized on the CD Modern Cool) and Cynthia Barber.
Born in the Chicago suburbs, Barber began playing classical piano at the age of 6. But when her father died three years later, the family moved to Sioux City, Iowa. After studying classical piano and psychology at the University of Iowa, Barber moved back to Chicago to play jazz and in 1984 landed the gig that launched her career, playing five nights a week at the famed Gold Star Sardine Bar. Beginning in 1989 Barber started appearing regularly at the North Sea Jazz Festival. In 1994, she moved her base of operations to the Green Mill, a Chicago north side club.
For the last several years, Barber has concentrated on her own compositions and returned to academics, gaining her masters degree in jazz pedagogy from Northwestern University, where she custom-fitted a course of study that included a great deal of 20th-century culture. She was allowed to custom design her own program to some extent and graduated with a Masters Degree in Jazz Pedagogy.
She and Sara Paretsky (author of the V.I. Warshawski private investigator books) are mutual fans, and Barber "appears" in the book, "Ghost Country." In the late 90s her touring group was guitarist Neal Alger, bassist Michael Arnopol and drummer Eric Montzka. Her partner is Martha Feldman, a professor at the University of Chicago.
Martha Feldman, professor University of Chicago:
Split (1989); A Distortion Of Love (1992); Cafe Blue (1994); Modern Cool (1998); Companion (1999); Nightclub (2000); Verse (2002)
Nancy Ann Lee: HearSay. Patricia Barber, in: Jazz Times, 25/1 (Feb.1995), p. 15 (F/I)
Wayne Saroyan: Profile. Patricia Barber, in: Jazziz, 12/2 (Feb.1995)
Her album "cafe blue" showed up on a slew of "Top Ten" lists for the year it was relased, including those published in Billboard ,Coda , and Jazziz magazines, the Chicago Sun-Times (#1) and the Chicago Tribune ; Barber was named the #1 Female Jazz Vocal "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" by DownBeat's International Critics Poll; and CD Review named cafe blue one of the Ten Greatest Jazz Vocal Recordings Ever.
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