Reviews of Red
“music that pushes the envelope of vocal jazz and R&B”Polish vocalist/composer/violinist Beata Pater, as of late in San Francisco, releases Red, the third recording in her "colors" series following Black (B&B, 2006) and Blue (B&B, 2011). She specializes in the no-lyrics singing that is related to, but not exactly the same as scat singing. Much of this is present on Red where, an expressive and passionate singer, Pater draws every bit of creativity from her mezzo-soprano voice. Her capability is elastic like that of Betty Carter and Cheryl Bentyne, with the midrange guts of Sarah Vaughan.
Red, like the previous "color" releases, focuses nominally on the particular color considered, ergo, the original "Big Red" and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay." Red sports fewer mainstream standards in favor of more Pater compositions and those shared with pianist Mark Little, with "Red Clay" and pianist Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly," which opens the disc, representing the "standards." Pater approaches a hip-hop sensibility on "Sir Doug of Edwards" and a Michael Jackson-infused groove on "Big Red," which features electric guitarist André Bush.
Pater brings all of her James Brown funk to "Red Clay," producing a rendition that is at once curious and fertile. It is a reflection of the entire disc, which houses music that pushes the envelope of vocal jazz and R&B. Pater has seized on a theme and she is riding it for all it is worth. It will be interesting to see where it goes next.
Review by C. MICHAEL BAILEY, AllAboutJazz.com
"a brilliant stylist that deserves respect and admiration for having the nerve to compose, perform and release such a highly personal, joyful & exhilarating musical statement"The California-based Polish vocalist Beata Pater is a dynamo of creativity, audacity and musical intelligence. I had already listened to some tracks of "Red" on her website, after having watched an ad on DownBeat, but listening to the "real disc" is the ultimate experience. I'm really in love with "Red", the kind of music that moves me, and possesses that kind of energy that attracted me to jazz via fusion in my childhood. Many artists try to perform "electric jazz" but without punch, without electricity. Beata's "Red" is superbly electrifying, full of high-speed energy.
Actually, it's not accurate to call Beata simply a singer or a vocalist. She's a top-class musician that uses her voice as a potent instrument (btw, she also plays violin in most of the tracks), belonging to that special class of artists such as Urszula Dudziak, Al Jarreau and Bobby McFerrin. But she's her own woman, gifted with vast resources, a sharp attack and an incredible stamina, sometimes creating the effect of a vocal choir through multiple overdubs.
It's not coincidence, however, that the main affinity we can easily note is with her kinswoman Dudziak, who emerged in Poland in the late 60s through a series of memorable projects with Mickal Urbaniak, and later became a fusion star here in the USA after releasing her debut solo album on Clive Davis' Arista label in 1976, which included the worldwide hit "Papaya" (in my native Brazil it became very popular as the opening theme of a TV soap opera, "Anjo Mau," but that's another story.)
The renditions of "Butterfly" and "Red Clay" (two of my favorite tunes ever, written by two of my all-time favorite artists, with whom I had the blessing to work with, ie., Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard) would be enough to make me Beata's #1 fan. But there are also her stunning originals, very appealing and interesting as well, most of them co-penned with keyboardist Mark Little, who also wrote two tracks alone (the striking "Lady Carmen," with Beata also on violin, and the etheral "Praise," built upon muted trumpet, acoustic bass and tabla). And Marek Balata contributes the bossa-oriented "Bachnova," anchored on the acoustic guitar of the California-based Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Celia Malheiros, and featuring Darius Babazadeh on flute.
"Butterfly," the opening song, has received many versions (some good, some excellent) since its debut on Herbie Hancock's 1974 album "Thrust." But none of them with the frenetic up-tempo mood that Beata and her groovehunters confer to such a magical song. The intoxicating bassline provided by Aaron Germain evokes memories of Deodato's classic "Skyscrapers," while Mark Little's hands fly on the keyboard.
The infallible drummer Ranzel Merritt (certainly a Dennis Chambers fan) and the impeccable guitarists Andre Bush & Carl Lockett (fans of John Tropea and David Amaro will have much to savour throughout the album), also help to bring the track to an ecstatic frenzy. It's followed by the Pater/Little collaboration on the latin-tinged "Ahmar," a massive 21st century descarga propelled by Raul Ramirez's timbales and percussion arsenal.
Track after track, Darius Babazadeh stands as an important figure on the album, since Beata often doubles her voice with his powerful tenor sax on such tunes as "Red" and "Sir Doug of Edwards," an impassionate tribute to Berkeley’s Pacifica radio station KPFA’s jazz programmer -- or jazz activist, as he sometimes referred to himself -- The Doug of Edwards, who died in 2010 and whose voice was sampled. [Earland Edwards was his legal name, but he was called Doug by most.] Darius is also featured, alongside guitarist Carl Lockett and pianist Mark Little, on the funkyfied "Bis," on which Beata displays the blackness of her mighty voice.
The spectacular rendition of the title track from Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay" incorporates an unexpected latin groove, tempered by an equally surprising change of tempo. My dear friend Mark Murphy and the now-defunct Rare Silk group recorded memorable versions of "Red Clay" with lyrics, but Beata's reading takes Hubbard's modern jazz classic to a whole new dimension. The quiet storm "Tragic Beauty" (one of the most successful examples of the voice/violin interaction) and the flamboyant "Vermelho" ("Red" on Portuguese) complete the tracklist.
Beata is a brilliant stylist that deserves respect and admiration for having the nerve to compose, perform and release such a highly personal, joyful & exhilarating musical statement, specially in a time that jazz becomes more boring each day, with so many old-fashioned tributes and very predictable performances. America deserves to know her better.
Review by Arnaldo Desouteiro, Jazz Station
"Beata Pater gets 4.5 Stars. The future of vocal jazz is in good hands!"... The follow up to "Blue" finds Pater reinventing some standard fare utilizing her voice not as the lead instrument as with Blue but instead as part of the effervescent hooks and grooves sprinkled throughout this most engaging release. Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly" and Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay" are two standards tossed in a mixed grill of what Pater does best. As a vocal musical chameleon Pater can fit in or fill any genre whole and transcend the norm from mundane and predictable to somewhat "artsy" while full of meaning full expression. For some the question, "Sounds like?" comes into play and while artistic comparisons are for the most part inherently unfair lets say in the case Flora Purim meets Cheryl Bentyne (before her pipes finally crapped out on her). Vocally Pater is not really cutting new ground here until we start talking about her original compositions and her place within the band she has assembled. ...
Beata Pater gets 4.5 Stars. The future of vocal jazz is in good hands!
Review by Brent Black, CriticalJazz.com
"a tour de force performance that goes beyond scat singing and takes vocalese to another level. It is the pure emotion of the music free from the tyranny of the word"
Red is the third album in jazz singer Beata Pater’s color series. Beginning in 2006 with Black, she (in collaboration with pianist/composer Mark Little) put together a set of familiar standards, songs like “Moon River,” “September in the Rain,” and “Summer Wind,” with what her website calls “modern, edgy interpretations” rooted in traditional jazz, “displaying her rhythmic acuity and fine tuned control of tonality.” “Control” is the key. Pater is a singer who understands how to control her voice for optimum effect.
Blue, which followed, was a collection of mostly original material, but building on the vocal control she had demonstrated in the Black album. She spurns lyrics and plays her voice like a musical instrument. It is a tour de force performance that goes beyond scat singing and takes vocalese to another level. It is the pure emotion of the music free from the tyranny of the word. This is the new direction of her music and it is the direction she continues to explore in Red.
I’m not sure how literally listeners are meant to apply the album titles. Certainly there are songs like “Afro Blue” and “Blue in Green” on Blue and “Big Red” and “Red Clay” on the new album, but if there is a central connection between all the tracks on the albums related to the color, I can’t say I have any idea what it is. Talking about the second album,Pater says “I want these CDs to not just be a series of tunes but to flow like a suite so listeners can listen to the whole CD in one setting.” Perhaps I’m being too literal, but this doesn’t help to explain the relationship between the musical choices and the titles.
On the other hand, if the music is great, what difference does it make? And there is some excellent music on all three of these albums. Of the dozen tracks on Red, only three are from composers other than Pater and Little, either individually or together. The album opens with Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly,” which gives listeners a good indication of what’s on tap for the rest of the album. If you like what you hear, you’re in for a treat. The other covers are the interesting “Bachnova” from Polish composer Marek Balata and Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay.”
Of the original material, highlights include Pater’s “Bis,” a down and dirty gem which shows a wilder side of the singer and features some nice solo work from Darius Babazadeh on sax, guitarist Carl Lockett, and Little on keys. The Latin rhythms of “Ahmar” are infectious and Babazadeh adds some nice texture with his solo on the sax and flute. There is a haunting Afro beat on Mark Little’s “Praise” where the singer is joined by Kush Khanna on tabula, Ranzel Merritt on drums, Tom Peron on trumpet, and Buca Necak on contrabass. “Rainy Bombay” has the Indian vibe indicated by the title, providing another twist. “Big Red” features a truly impressive keyboard solo from Little and some as well as some nice vocal harmonies from Pater.
Beata Pater is an original. Red is not an album you want to read about, Red is an album you have to hear.
Review by Jack Goodstein, Blogcritics.org
“Pater puts together some spunky, perky, florid, sassy, rambunctious songs that transport the listener"Beata Pater's 6th solo CD, the 3rd in her color series, might best be remarked by her choice of covers: Freddie Hubbard's Red Clay, Herbie Hancock's Butterfly, and Marek Balata's Bachnova (the remainder being hers or co-written with keyboardist Mark Little), turning them all into Brazilian versions of a stripe Ivan Conti and the Azymuth lads might well have penned, novo-latinate. Pater was extensively trained in Poland on violin, but was early-on recognized for vocal strengths and started her professional life—at age 8!—with the Warsaw opera. For her still young years, Pater's been busy as a bee in recording sessions, commercials, movie sundtracking, and so on. From opera, though, she moved into her real love, jazz, and that's where she resides now. Beata's compared to Flora Purim and Tania Maria, apt enough models, but I detect quite a bit of fellow countrymen Urszula Dudziak and Urszula's husband Michael Urbaniak as well, with some Czeslaw Nieman and Bjorn Jaysun Lindh tossed in for good measure. She indeed possesses a strong voice, much bolder than one expects in the melismatics displayed throughout the CD (there are no lyrics anywhere save for a very curious odd short spoken appearance by Doug Edwards) as well as quite a penchant for writing and arranging…aaaaand choosing very good session musicians. One herself, she knows the best when she hears them. Think of Red as a kind of mid-ground between Shakatak and Sade instrumentally, with both bands grooving on samba, bossa, etc. Gil, Bonfa, Pascoal, and the giants of those genres would or will be (sorry, I don't know who among them is alive or not, not being an obituarian) quite impressed, and I'm telling you to pay special attention to bassist Aaron Germain and what he does with those four fat strings. Holy cow! Pater puts together some spunky, perky, florid, sassy, rambunctious songs that transport the listener from the sardined hustle and bustle of NYC to the expansive sunlit beaches of Rio de Janeiro—and, hoo boy!, can we ever use that kind of escape in these times. And as I like to pay attention to the little-known but oft intriguing elements in these affairs, let me also mention that the whole gig was recorded and mixed by Bond Bergland of The Saqqara Dogs, writer of one of my all-time fave songs, Found Wonder off his really obscure solo LP. Stick in the crit biz long enuff, and you'll see everyone you ever knew, or knew about, pass through several times. I think M.C. Escher coulda made a tesseract of it, but it would've been wrought of palm trees and cocktails with umbrellas in them after listening to Red.
Review by Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Jazz WeeklyVocalist/violinist Beata Pater mixes and matches a variety of sounds and styles here, with a combination of old school acoustic and Headhunter funky modern. Electric fusion sounds from the late 70s permeate material like Herbie Hancock’s own “Butterfly” as well as Pater’s “Sir Doug of Edwards.” Her vocalizing of sounds ranges from an earthy nasal on the acoustically salsa “Ahmar” to a caressingly nasal with gentle guitars on “Bachnova.” A take of Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” is a riveting delight, with Pater delivering the hornlike melody as sassy as The Hub ever would. Lots of wild and successfully percussive ideas bouncing around here.
Review by George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
Musicians of Red
Beata Pater - vocal, violin
Mark Little - keys
Aaron Germain - bass
Ranzell Merritt - drums
Andre Bush - guitar
Carl Lockett - guitar
Celia Malheiros- guitar
Raul Ramirez - percussion
Kush Khanna- tabla
Darius Babazadeh - sax and flute
Tom Peron - trumpet
Buca Necak - contrabass
Doug Edwards - voice
Radio Stations Playing Red* acheived Top Ten status
|La Guagua Radio||Buenos Aires||Argentina|
|The Voice 88.7 FM||Sacramento||CA|
|CHMR*||St. John's NF||Canada|
|Aspen Public Radio||Aspen||CO|
|Radio ARA||Grand Duchy of||Luxembourg|
|TCC "The Grid"||Tulsa||OK|
|Pure Jazz Radio||Online||Online|
|Polish Jazz Radio||Poland|
|All Jazz Radio||Cape Town||South Africa|
|Georgia Public Radio||Syndicated||Syndicated|
|Jazz & Blues Tour Radio||Netherlands|
|KUER||Salt Lake City||UT|
Tracks1. BUTTERFLY (Herbie Hancock) 4:21
2. AHMAR (Pater-Little) 4:05
3. BACHNOVA (Marek Bałata) 3:37
4. SIR DOUG OF EDWARDS (Pater-Little) 3:57
5. BIG RED (Pater-Little) 4:05
6. BIS (Beata Pater) 4:36
7. LADY CARMEN (Mark Little) 3:48
8. PRAISE (Mark Little) 6:52
9. RANY BOMBAY (Beata Pater) 4:11
10. RED CLAY (Freddie Hubbard) 4:17
11. TRAGIC BEAUTY (Pater-Little) 5:16
12. VERMELHO (Pater-Little) 3:03
Recording infoRecorded in Berkeley September, 2011
Recorded at San Pablo Recorders
Recording/mix engineer - Bond Bergland
Mastering engineer - Dale "D-Wiz" Everingham
Media infoArtist: Beata Pater
Label: B&B Records
Catalog Number: BB0418
UPC Code: 826049000043
Street Date: April 2, 2013