One of the most inventive, versatile and intriguing jazz singers on the scene today, Beata Pater is not only an improvising vocalist but an arranger, composer and violinist. Her haunting voice is as effective on moody ballads as it is on uptempo material and she is notable both for her wordless flights and for her ability to dig deep into the hidden meanings of lyrics. Whether performing originals or vintage standards, she is consistently memorable and never shy to stretch herself.
Beata Pater’s most recent recording is the third entry in her “color” series, “Red”. A with her previous release “Blue”, Beata’s voice is the lead instrument, vocalizing in original compositions expressing her unique tone and character, leading to the album receiving airplay around the globe. Comparisons have been made to Flora Purim and Tania Maria. In Red, Beata expresses her unique jazz vocalizations with an energetic infectious groove built by a stalwart of musicians.
Beata Pater was born and raised in Poland. She started going to music school when she was six and was extensively trained as a violinist. Because her father loved a wide variety of music, she not only grew up hearing classical music but jazz and pop. Among those who she has cited as early inspirations were Donny Hathaway, Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Also very important was her violin professor’s wife, who noticed her strong voice when she was eight and helped her get started as a singer.
When she was 14, Beata formed her first band, Funlight. The group was a combination of fusion, funk, jazz, rock and pop. She not only sang (mostly wordlessly) but played piano and made strong contributions as an arranger-composer. Funlight did well in Poland, performing regularly on the radio and touring. Beata also recorded and performed with the group Deuter, and made records with Igor Czerniawksi and AYA RL project. At 18, Beata went to England as part of a professor exchange program, working as a teacher but also singing whenever she had an opportunity, making a strong impression.
“I had an opportunity to go to Japan for six months, getting a contract with CBS/Sony as a recording session artist. The six months eventually became ten years.” During her decade in Japan, Beata was constantly busy,, making commercials, singing in movies, appearing on a countless number of sessions, and working as a Yamaha School of Music educator. She was also a regular in jazz clubs, performing with such jazz artists as pianist Walter Bishop Jr. and drummer Jimmy Smith in addition to talented local musicians. She toured Asia, performed at Birdland in Manhattan, and grew to love acoustic straight ahead jazz. In 1993 Beata made her recording debut as a leader on Session, a set in which she was joined by pianist Donny Schwekendier and bassist Bootza Necak. She modestly says, “It’s not that bad considering that it was half recorded in a club and half in a recording studio. The best performance we did was ‘Whisper Not,’ a duet I did with Bootza.”
Near the end of her period in Japan, Beata met some top American musicians and put together a new group. “After I had been in Japan for ten years, the musicians in my band decided to return to the U.S. I liked the San Francisco Bay area so 15 years ago I moved to the United States. Through the musicians I knew from Japan, I met other very good musicians and got busy.”
Beata’s second jazz album was 1998’s Duet, a collaboration with Buca Necak, her longtime bassist from Japan. “On Duet, we took some standards, broke them down a bit, and used interludes that stretched out the songs yet connected the different sections and movements. These are not typical versions.”
Blackout from 2003 received its name because, when New York had a major blackout, Beata was in a recording studio, recording a pop album with Oda Yuichiro. “We continued composing by candle light and by using an old-fashioned tape recorder that used batteries.” They resumed recording the album two days later, featuring Yuichiro’s music and Beata’s lyrics.
Black, the first in the color series, is highlighted by Beata’s fresh and inventive versions of such songs as “Blue Skies,” “September In The Rain,” “Nice & Easy” and “The Very Thought Of You.” Her band includes such notables as pianist-producer Mark Little, guitarist Mimi Fox and saxophonist Ken Cohea. Beata’s singing, while unpredictable, displays her comfort and ease with interpreting lyrics.
The Ballads Of Shirley And Sarah is a soon-to-be released CD that grew out of a 2009 Japanese tour with Buca Necak and pianist Aoki Hiromu. “Sarah Vaughan is my goddess and has been from the time that I started singing standards. I’ve also always loved Shirley Horn so this CD is dedicated to the two of them. I was digging into Sarah’s Brazilian material and also the record that Shirley Horn did that included Miles Davis, and that inspired this recording. It is very intimate, simple, and creates a magical and comfortable atmosphere.”
With the release of Blue in 2011 and Red in April of 2013, Beata Pater is looking ahead to the future. “In September we will be recording Green. I have already composed the material for Green and Red. I hope to tour Europe and Asia twice a year and create more recording projects which might also include some classical pieces. I am always interested in participating in any situation that is unique, colorful and musically rewarding.”
Unique, colorful and musically rewarding are adjectives that perfectly fit the career and music of Beata Pater, a performer who after all of her accomplishments still gives one the impression that the best is yet to come.