Personnel: Patricia Barber (vocals, piano, sound effects); Dave Douglas (trumpet); John McLean (guitar); Jeff Stitely (udu); Michael Arnopol (bass); Mark Walker (drums, percussion); Choral Thunder Vocal Choir (background vocals).
Recorded at Chicago Recording Company, Studio 5, Chicago, Illinois from January 6-9 & February 26, 1998.
The husky-voiced Patricia Barber is perhaps the most intellectually ambitious of mainstream jazz singers. She writes much of her material and, in 2006, released a whole album based on Ovid's METAMORPHOSES! MODERN COOL (1998) is also one of her most musically adventurous albums, made up primarily of ambitious, finely played (and sung) originals--like the trend-watching opener, "Touch of Trash," and the exotic-flavored "Constantinople," which features Cassandra Wilson-like wordless vocals in addition to avant-trumpet star Dave Douglas and Jeff Stitley on the African udu. Not to neglect the old songbook, Barber also includes a few eclectically chosen covers: Arthur Schwartz's "You and the Night and the Music" done rock-guitar style, a tasty "Light My Fire," and a fun and funky "She's a Lady."
Entertainment Weekly (10/16/98, p.89) - "...Barber mixes Cassandra Wilson's spare stylings and k.d. Lang's suave gender play with smart originals and surprising arrangments..." - Rating: A-
Down Beat (9/98, p.49) - Stars (out of 5) - "...MODERN COOL has everything that made CAFE BLUE special: original songs...outside-the-box choices for covers from the popular repertoire; spare, sleek, telling arrangements by Barber's working quintet....one of the best recordings made of a jazz singer with small acoustic ensemble..."