This Wednesday, November 9, the Southminster United Church will host the dreamy vocal jazz of Canadian singer/songwriter Jill Barber. The concert is being presented by the Ottawa Jazz Festival to benefit next year’s festival programming.
Barber’s most recent musical release, The Family Album, is a pop-folk collaboration with her brother Matthew Barber. As she describes it, the new album is a collaborative throwback her folk music roots.
“I started as a teenager playing acoustic guitar and writing much folkier songs. I grew up on Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, so [The Family Album] plays tribute to those folk roots.”
Although the Barbers are currently on tour to promote The Family Album together, Jill will be slipping back into her solo jazz persona for Wednesday night’s fundraiser. This kind of transition between musical styles—from folk, to jazz, and back again—seems to come effortlessly to the two-time JUNO nominee.
“The music I make is very much like my own record collection; it reflects a cross-section of genres that I love,” says Barber. “Everything from folk, to jazz, and beyond. As a songwriter, every time I sit down to write a song, I’m trying to create something that can transcend any genre and stand the test of time.”
“Rather than, you know, poking someone on Facebook, people would write a love letter or something. I’m very nostalgic for those times, and I think that shows in my music.”
There is a kind of timeless, nostalgic quality to the music that Barber creates. It has a romantic sound, which is something Barber feels is missing from the soundtrack of our daily lives.
“I think my music harkens back to that time when romance was more of a thing. Romance is still present in today’s society, but I think I’m nostalgic for a time when it was a bit more old-fashioned,” says Barber. “Rather than, you know, poking someone on Facebook, people would write a love letter or something. I’m very nostalgic for those times, and I think that shows in my music.”
The Family Album marks the 8th addition to Barber’s discography, which includes Chances (2008), her first departure from folk to jazz, and Chansons (2013), her first album recorded entirely in French. Chansons debuted at #1 on Canadian jazz charts, and featured music from Québec and France, such as songs written by Édith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, Henri Salvador, Raymond Berthiaume, and Raymond Lévesque. It’s clear that Barber’s passion for writing and performing jazz-inspired music is no Old Flame.
“Lately, I’ve been very creative and writing a lot. I’m also a mom to two young kids, so when I get out there on stage it’s my chance to have a break from being a mom. Once I’m on stage, I really just want to have fun, so I’m really feeling the songs that are really fun to perform right now.”
For Wednesday evening’s fundraiser, Barber will perform a mixture of up-tempo songs from her broad jazz repertoire, old and new. “They’re songs that I love to play and hopefully ones that people will love to hear.”
Jill Barber will be in-concert to benefit the Ottawa Jazz Festival on Wednesday November 9 at 7:30pm at the Southminster United Church (15 Aylmer Ave). Tickets are $40, available online at www.ottawajazzfestival.com and at the door.