Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Patricia Barber Quartet's Monday Night Residency Makes for a Euphonious Visit to the Green Mill -- Chicago Jazz Review

Jazz Review

Patricia Barber Quartet
Green Mill, Chicago
Seen February 3, 2014
Performs every Monday, 9p-1a

There's no good reason why I don't go to the Green Mill at least 2 or 3 times a year.

For every time I've been there--a good handful, but not for awhile--I've loved everything about it:

The old school ambiance, the unique decor, the funky vibe, the sense of history in a place that dates back to 1907 and oft hosted Al Capone--his favorite booth is still intact--the low cost, the free parking around the corner, the friendly, attitude-free staff, the ability to casually hang out for hours and, of course, the great jazz.

And there's no good reason why I've never gone to hear the Patricia Barber Quartet, as they have had a Monday night residency there for several years--perhaps 17 or 18 according to a guy I asked--and the cover charge is currently just $7.

Sure, I could say that getting to Uptown for a 9pm-1am performance isn't exactly conducive if I have steady weekday work, but my friend Ken and I currently don't yet still opted to leave at about 10:30pm following Barber's first of 3 sets (after consuming just coffee and Diet Coke, for a total of $8).

So even without making it a real long night or engaging in much true Bohedonism--the Green Mill being perhaps Chicago's best approximation of Bohemian Paris--being there felt just about perfect.

A gifted pianist and singer, Patricia Barber has been doing what she does for quite awhile--I just recently noticed a gig of hers listed in a Chicago Tribune from 1980--but even after seeing her trudge in and unbundle on another cold Chicago night, she appeared to take great joy in performing.

Her current quartet is rounded out by three guys easily young enough to be her sons--per Barber's website her accompanists rotate but on Monday were John Kregor on guitar, Patrick Mulcahy on stand-up bass and John Deitemyer on drums--and all four players took impressive solo turns.

Barber didn't sing on every tune performed, but did so sublimely on the opening "Night and Day" by Cole Porter. Later in the first set, she sang a song in French, indulging our imagination that Ken and I were hanging with Hem and Gertrude in the Parisian '20s.

As I've often stated, I generally prefer jazz that includes a saxophone, but there was nothing I heard over a good hour-plus that I didn't like. And the setting, within one of Chicago most unique and magical hangouts, made it all the more special.

Kregor had a few nice guitar solos and a prolonged drum solo by Deitemyer was one of the highlights late in the only set we saw.

So I highly recommend that you make a point of getting down to the Green Mill, especially--but not only--on a Monday night (though take note that Barber will be away for a few upcoming Mondays).

And I certainly intend to return, hopefully sooner than later.

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