Chicago Tribune Best Albums of 2019

December 4th, 2019

The creativity of today's jazz artists never ceases to amaze, as this year's best recordings attest:

Patricia Barber: "Higher" (ArtistShare). Listeners have come to expect surprises from singer-pianist-songwriter Barber, who's in residence Monday nights at the Green Mill when she's not on tour. But "Higher" pushes against convention more boldly than even Barber's more ardent fans might have anticipated, particularly in the song cycle at the heart of this recording, "Angels, Birds and I ..." The long-gestating work distills Barber's art to its essence, expressing hope, desire, grief and more in meticulously crafted melody and lyrics, and exquisitely ambiguous harmony. A tour de force in all regards. - Howard Reich