Living in a music culture that is often driven by “demographic viability,” imposed trends, and formulaic interpretations of what an artist should look and sound like, it is pleasing to come across an artist with a non-commercial sound, distinguished from popular offerings. International jazz singer, violinist, composer and arranger, Beata Pater, (Bay ah’ta Pah’ter), is such an artist, born and raised in Poland, the place of her musical beginnings – learning the violin at age six and growing up in a musically diverse environment, exposing her to a repertoire of classical, jazz, and pop music, to the early influences of Donny Hathaway, Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane.
Sometimes singing standards and other times improvising a “lyricless” vocal range, conjuring images of female jazz legends in strapless gowns and cocktail dresses, as the Sarah Vaughans of the day – whom she describes as her goddess – Pater has a unique style honed from early inspirations, teaching and living in Japan, touring world-famous jazz clubs, to amassing a formal and living repertoire of training.
A testament to her craft, Blue, the second CD in her color series – following Black – is an amazing compilation of jazz pieces performed without lyrics – a type of prolonged adlib that is sometimes animated, refined, or exquisitely mesmerizing as heard with “The Little Prince.”
Currently promoting Blue, here in my interview with Pater, she provides an introspective look at the commemorative track that may someday become a well-known classic.
You have a vastly intriguing range – singing classic jazz standards as some of the best female jazz legends of the last century, to employing a unique improvisational style of singing without lyrics. How would you best describe your improvisational technique, as heard on Blue?
Music is the most beautiful creation of a wordless language. My singing is a sequence of musical notes in octatonic scale. My technique is very strongly connected to a violin playing technique: the rhythm, dynamics, articulation, timbre and harmony. There is no recipe and no answer.
Blue is a fascinating CD with arranged standards opening and closing the album, balanced with the insatiable, “Little Prince.” Classic jazz fans are familiar with the first and last standards, “Afro Blue,” and “Blue in Green,” however, “The Little Prince,” composed by you and pianist, Mark Little, is an exquisite elegy with the makings of a classic in years to come. Tell us about this ingenious creation?
I love to play with the music already written. It is almost like a mystery. Both “Afro Blue” and “Blue in Green” are very powerful compositions. Here, comes challenge, responsibility, and respect to this great music. I am always very careful to never diminish its excellence.
As for composing, it’s like breathing. It is part of me. I listen to myself – my intuition; I taste, I smell, I see colors and shapes in every note, and when I am kind to it, I get creations like “The Little Prince” in return.
“The Little Prince” is the title of one of the best French novels of the 20th century and its idealistic observations about life and human nature. It could not have been a better title for the tune that was composed during Michael Jackson’s memorial service.
When an artist produces a brilliant work in a short span of time, the brilliance is often manifested from pure impulse, allowing the artist to channel human sensations and emotions relatable to all. Can you share with us the sensations and feelings that surfaced when composing “The Little Prince?”
It was a moment of unexplained power, emotions, and distraction … the only way to ease the state of mind was to concentrate on expressing myself through musical notes.
And what did you feel afterwards?
I was relieved, calmed, comforted … felt responsible, accountable, and obligated to create whatever is next.
To experience Blue, go to Beata’s site and simply listen.
Yvonne Grays Nathane – Uptempo Magazine