In her relentless pursuit of innovative brilliance, Beata Pater has this rule. “True artistry demands that we always challenge ourselves, never look for an easy route, work hard and thoroughly enjoy the process. There is no other way for me.” This is vividly reflected on Fire Dance. Always heavily involved in the production of her recordings, on Fire Dance she has taken it a good deal further, controlling the process from start to finish, supervising every aspect of the production in and out of the studio, from conceptual inception through the mixing and mastering. First, she engaged composer/pianist Alex Danson to create 11 original compositions, with Beata infusing the colors, textures and contextual vision upon the structure and framework. Then she selected 7 remarkable musicians to develop the music into a most captivating anthology of vividly cinematic excursions.
A key element of the concept was the marvelous use of vocal overdubs. As many as 16 tracks on some pieces, ranging from bass to soprano – all sung by Beata in old-school style. No technological shortcuts, no gimmicks… just plain old-fashioned vocal virtuosity – not for its own sake, but woven intrinsically into the musical context of her sumptuous vision.
Although Beata is in the creative forefront of jazz vocal expression, there is a significant World Music influence here, along with some rich doses of R&B. The rhythmic thrust calls to mind the fiery exoticism of Middle Eastern, North African and Eastern European improvisational folk forms, defying category. A major part of this comes from Beata’s utterly unique wordless vocal style, impeccable in its intonation and as fluidly rhythmic as a wind instrument – sometimes serpentine like a shenai or oboe, sometimes as dulcet as an alto flute, and others as warmly beguiling as a muted trumpet – as she soars, dives, coils and shimmers inside, around and through the music. For Beata Pater, Fire Dance is another step in a life journey of totally singular and profound expression.
Reviews of Fire Dance
“The multi-tracked vocals sometimes have a classic vocal jazz ensemble sound that may remind some of The Swingle Singers or Manhattan Transfer, while the overdubbed wordless sounds may remind some of Bobby McFerrin, but for much of “Fire Dance“, Pater has crafted a sound that is unique to this album.”
Beata Pater’s first five albums could be called ‘typical’ vocal jazz albums, as they featured the usual mix of standards and originals. That’s not to say her vocal approach has not been inspired, instead, she has received high marks for her flexible and fluid style, but no previous album she has made could prepare her followers for her latest, “Fire Dance”. On this new one, Pater employed Alex Danson to write eleven new originals, which Pater then arranged for multiple wordless vocal overdubs supported by a saxophone trio and a four piece electric rhythm section. The end result is a sort of modern big band made up mostly of Pater’s voice multi-tracked up to sixteen times on some cuts. The multi-tracked vocals sometimes have a classic vocal jazz ensemble sound that may remind some of The Swingle Singers or Manhattan Transfer, while the overdubbed wordless sounds may remind some of Bobby McFerrin, but for much of “Fire Dance“, Pater has crafted a sound that is unique to this album.
Musically this album pulls from a variety of styles including modern RnB, post bop and fusion from the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. The end result is sometimes similar to Weather Report in the late 70s, or any of Joe Zawinul’s bands since WR. Imagine the Swingle Singers covering classic Weather Report material and you might have a clue as to what is going on here. Along with Pater’s lead vocals, the saxophonists occasionally take short solos, and even exchange in free three way interplay on a couple cuts.
The make or break on here is Pater’s approach to wordless vocals. No doubt this was a very risky record to make, many have a right to fear what an album based around wordless vocals might sound like, but “Fire Dance” is a success due to a very careful use of vocal sounds that never become annoying or embarrassing. Pater is also careful to never overuse the so-called ‘scatting’ technique, a decision that saves this album from potential indulgence. Instead, all of the multi-tracked vocals on here are carefully arranged, much like a complex big band chart. Top tracks include two beautifully abstract numbers that appear in the middle of the CD, title track “Fire Dance” and “The Princess”. Both feature soaring vocals that recall a pre- Renaissance European style, as well as a classic Middle Eastern sound.John Sanders Jazz Music Archives
“very contemporary fare that is certainly enjoyable.…a distinctly crisp and precise contemporary character sure to please any Pater fan.”
I have only been called out (by name) by another music writer once. But that once was over my review of Beata Pater’s Red (B&B Records, 2013), where my fellow scribe claimed I had reduced the artist’s performance to, ...”a gimmick with a pulse.” That said, Pater releases Fire Dance into her own vacuum. Pater specializes in, for lack of a better term, what can be called “wordless vocals.” This is not scat and it is not vocalese. It is Pater using her voice as an equal ensemble member. She melds well with soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome, tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz and baritone saxophonist Aaron Lington. This is very contemporary fare that is certainly enjoyable. All the eleven pieces are composed by Romanian born, California-based Alex Danson, bearing a distinctly crisp and precise contemporary character sure to please any Pater fan. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/more-female-vocals-andmore-- cheryl-fisher-natalia-m-king-beata-pater-ellenandersson- cecilia-persson-natalia-m-king-by-c-michaelbailey. phpC. Michael Bailey All About Jazz
"Different shade, different hues, Beata extends the possibilities of the human voice."
Having joined the throngs of fans of Beata Pater and reviewing her previous albums BLUE and RED and GOLDEN LADY you'd think the wonders of this artist's voice and talent would not surprise. But that is simply not the case. Beata Pater has taken a delightful turn into another sublime direction with FIRE DANCE. She returns to the luxury of a backup ensemble to create an enthralling gem of an album, filled with emotional intensity and rich lyricism.
Beata Pater is a Polish born international jazz star, but a star with her own language of music. Classically trained as a violinist in the Music Academy of Warsaw, Pater understands rhythm, pitch, the vocalise, and the juxtaposition of musical lines better than many of our finest classical musicians, and yet she employs all of these traits to her unique gifts as a jazz singer. Rather than concentrating on lyrics Pater instead puts her abilities to the test of communicating a song's meaning through simply using her rather incredible instrument of a voice to produce musical lines instrumentally. She is one unique artist. She has the most creative expanse of musical sounds she can create simply with using her voice to stretch where others dare not go. The result is an aural experience like no other. The voice here becomes the lead instrument challenging her fellow musicians to ride as high as she dares to go.
The ensemble is Beata Pater – vocals, Sam Newsome - soprano sax, Anton Schwartz - tenor sax, Aaron Lington - baritone sax, Scott Collard – keys, Aaron Germain – bass, Alan Hall – drums, and Brian Rice – percussion.
The tracks are Curse of the Locust, Daylight Savings, Sand Dunes, Harvest Season, Fire Dance, The Princess, Round Dance, Flash Back, The Quest, Reaping Spell, and Ritual.
Different shade, different hues, Beata extends the possibilities of the human voice.
by Grady Harp, Amazon
“Tasty stuff that takes jazz vocal to some new places, this is a set that moves creative music forward. “
The wordless vocalist is changing it up this time around. The songs are all originals, she's using vocal overdubs and did the production herself. The result is a more well produced version of what you would typically get from a hippie/art chick and her jazzy pals. This set resides in the out of the ordinary/accessible realm and can easily fill the bill as a summer sunset outing. Tasty stuff that takes jazz vocal to some new places, this is a set that moves creative music forward. Check it out.
Chris Spector, Midwest Record
"presents yet another aspect of this multi-faceted artist’s work"
An earlier album by Beata Pater, Golden Lady (BB 0419), reviewed here, featured her singing a pleasing selection of well-known yet underused songs with just piano and bass accompaniment. On this new release, she sings a collection of wordless songs, all of them originals by Alex Danson, and for these she is joined by a seven-piece band. Rhythmically varied, the music touches on eastern Europe, the Middle East and north Africa, all cloaked in American concepts, including contemporary R&B and jazz/funk. Beata’s vocal sound, soft and intimate, draws the listener in and despite the absence of words succeeds in creating a warmly intimate and lyrical air. The nature of the songs heard here showcases Beata’s musical skill, honed though training as a violinist at Warsaw’s Music Academy, and also as a session singer in Japan. The singer’s accompanists here are saxophonists Sam Newsome, Anton Schwartz, Aaron Lington, keyboard player Scott Collard, bassist Aaron Germain, drummer Alan Hall, and percussionist Brian Rice. Adding immeasurably to the texture of these performances, use is made by Beata of multi-tracking, thus creating a highly effective vocal chorale. The absence of lyrics enhances the Beata’s role as a fully integrated member of the ensemble, her voice being used instrumentally. An attractive album that presents yet another aspect of this multi-faceted artist’s work.Bruce Crowther, Jazz Mostly
"her concept is fresh and Pater’s vocal intonation is stellar"
Pater’s concept is to utilize her extraordinary vocal range and sing multi-parts, from deep alto to high soprano, sometimes using as many as sixteen studio tracks to accomplish her determined goal.…her concept is fresh and Pater’s vocal intonation is stellar.This project is unusual in that the artist’s vocals are used entirely like an instrument; no words spoken nor stories unfolding. This is comfortable background music that explores the art of scatting with the concentration on melody rather than storytelling. Beata Pater uses vocal layering as a technique to interpret eleven compositions. She invited Alex Danson to the project as her unique and gifted composer. Pater’s concept is to utilize her extraordinary vocal range and sing multi-parts, from deep alto to high soprano, sometimes using as many as sixteen studio tracks to accomplish her determined goal. At times, her sound reminds me of someone using a vocoder or vocal harmonizing device. According to the liner notes, Ms. Pater would rather be considered a lead instrumentalist than a vocalist, flipping the idea upside down that a jazz group has to simply support the singer. Instead, she melts her unique vocals into the world-music stew pot, becoming the meat of the matter. Yes, I said ‘World Music’ because this is not Be-bop, like Manhattan Transfer, or ‘Swing ‘ Jazz. The Danson compositions lend themselves to various cultures and musical credos. There’s nothing “Straight Ahead” here, but rather a comfortable blend of easy listening, instrumental productions. You might easily hear this recording on a World Music program, NPR, or alternative and smooth jazz stations. From an artistic perspective, I appreciate Beata Pater’s desire to color her music outside the designated lines and vocally step outside the box. However, as a lover of jazz and improvisation, and because improvisation is one of the most important facets of jazz music, the structured way this project is recorded appears more classical than spontaneous; especially when it comes to the vocals. Additionally, I miss hearing a story or lyrics delivered emotionally by the vocalist. Without the use of a vocoder, I wonder how this concept could be reproduced on concert stages as a ‘live’ performance. However, as a recorded project, her concept is fresh and Pater’s vocal intonation is stellar.
Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs