Barbara's Montgomery's "Noel, One From The Heart": A sweet and sensual marvel!

The perfect present for Christmas, this Christmas all the Christmases to follow. Barbara Montgomery's voice is like the  sound of a  10 carats diamond gently touching the face a dreamy river... it splashes and radiates beauty. It is an elegant voice enrobed with an intimate beauty, depth and human warmth. The piano solo sparkles with elegance and lyrical tenderness. Almost perfect. Even though, the CD is seasonal, it will transcend the boundaries of time and space. This CD comes really from the heart. "Lo How A Rose E're Blooming" is mesmerizing, a true reflection of Montgomery's voice out of this world. Highly recommended. Add it to your collection. Barbara is listed in the World Who's Who in Jazz, Cabaret, Music and Entertainment 2007.

December 11, 2005

Noel—One From The Heart 5 stars

By John Gilbert

Barbara Montgomery welcomes Christmas in exotic style, with fine piano accompaniment.

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" Montgomery languidly brings this message 'from the heart' -- I am sure the lyrics to this song hits home with many, including myself. Service men in particular will certainly relate to it.

"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" A great tune any time of the year. The melody is enchanting as is Barbara Montgomery.

There is a hint of Dani Thompson in Montgomery's vocalizations..but make no mistake, she has an individual presentation that will last in one's memory.

It's so easy when you know how and so pretty when you do it right, and Barbara Montgomery does it both pretty and right.

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New York, New York

December 8, 2005

ARTS BEATS by Barry Bassis

Barbara Montgomery’s “Noel—One from the Heart” is an unusually sensitive Christmas album.

While most singers go for excess with large ensembles, her approach is to perform the songs simply, with piano accompaniment,  Tom Lawton is on all pieces except on “O Holy Night” where the pianist is Barry Sames.

Montogomery worked out the arrangements with the pianists as well.  The choices of material are quite refreshing: John Rutter’s “Carol of the Children” and traditional pieces like “Lo How A Rose E’re Blooming”. Peter, Paul and Mary’s “A Soalin” is given a jazz flavor and “Children Go Where I Send Thee” has a gospel sound reminiscent of Nina Simone’s rendition.  Montgomery sings the rare opening verse on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” has an initmate feel.  In sum, this is a holiday album that celebrates the spiritual rather than the commercial side.

Noél: One from the Heart

Barbara Montgomery | Mr. Bean & Bumpy Music

By Jim Santella  12/04/05

Barbara Montgomery sings this slow and somber program of Christmas songs with piano accompaniment in a manner suited to the spiritual meaning of this holiday season. It’s a time for reflection, for giving, for sharing, and for being there when our loved ones need us. Her prayerful interpretations leave us with humble tidings that weigh heavily on the holiday mood. Forget about jingling bells, Santa Claus, and visions of sugar plums. Consider instead the responsibility that we all bear at this time of the year, to look inside ourselves and to make sure that the true meaning of Christmas rests within us.

”I’ll Be Home for Christmas” opens the album with its seldom-used verse. The glowing embers of a down-home fireplace beckon as Montgomery follows with the familiar lyric. “What Child is This” follows with a woeful mourn that asks us to consider the holiday’s true purpose. More traditional fare reminds us that the New Year’s coming is a time for reflection and a time for making positive changes.

Peter, Paul and Mary gave us “Soalin’.” Montgomery and Tom Lawson interpret this piece with a jazz spirit that switches gears in its spiritual mood, from slow and somber to upbeat and fresh. The driving jazz attitude proves quite refreshing.

Montgomery’s gospel interpretation of “Children Go Where I Send Thee” stands out as the album’s high point as she and Lawson pump it up with spirits soaring. The music gives us all the strength that we need in order to completely fulfill our unselfish needs at this time of devout reflection.

Barbara Montgomery - Noel  ( records, Mr. Bean and Bumpy Music, Inc.)

Released: December, 2005

Four microphones (out of four)

Doug Boynton (11/24/05)

Listen to her music, then read the various bios on Ms. Montgomery (including her own), and you'll still wonder why her career hasn't been on a higher trajectory.  The press sheet that comes with the disc calls her a "sultry, smoky-voiced jazz song stylist."

Well, yeah.

When I was a young man, I would talk with other young men about this kind of voice.  We'd say, "She knows."  Meaning a lot of things - but boiling down to the feeling that she knows about life, and could teach us all a thing or two.  I'm no longer a young man, but that's still the kind of slack-jawed awe Ms. Montgomery's voice generates for me.

You have to have that kind of voice - to do the kind of turn she does on "I'll Be Home For Christmas."  It opens with the verse that's not often used - "I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love/Even more than I usually do."

It's the kind of treatment that drives home the "...only in my dreams" line.

This disc is full of winners.  A bluesy turn on Peter, Paul and Mary's "A' Soalin," a few that aren't often heard on these kind of offerings - "Carol Of The Children," a spiritual "Children Go Where I Send Thee" - and it closes with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

One cut features (quiet) harmony by (French pianist) Bernard Peiffer, and Barry Sames is the piano accompanist on "O Holy Night."  Otherwise, it's simply Ms. Montgomery's voice, and quiet, thoughtful piano by Tom Lawton. Nothing too fancy in the arrangements on this one.  With a voice like Ms. Montgomery's, it simply isn't needed.  Last time out ("Trinity"), I said I'd like to hear only her voice and a piano.

I must have been good.  Santa must have been listening.  Goose bumps.

"One From The Heart" is the sub-title.  I'll say.  This disc must be in your holiday collection.

Noél – One From the Heart 

Musicians: Barbara Montgomery (vocals), Tom Lawton (piano)

Reviewed by: Richard Bourcier

2005 seems to be a banner year for fine Christmas recordings. Here's another to add to your Christmas stocking.

Pennsylvania songstress, Barbara Montgomery, offers her Noél – One From The Heart. Accompanied by Philadelphia jazz pianist Tom Lawton, the singer serves up a session of sacred and secular holiday favorites. Montgomery's six previous CDs earned her a reputation as a sultry jazz balladeer and her fans will not be disappointed with Noel. Barbara Montgomery's earthy style lends itself perfectly to her choice of time-honored treasures. From the first note, she surprises the listener by singing the verse to "I'll Be Home For Christmas." This reviewer was unaware that the old chestnut had a verse.

We liked the singer's lovely readings of "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" and "What Child Is This." The former is delivered with an implied Latin rhythm assisted by Tom Lawton's sensitive keyboard style.

Barbara Montgomery has great voice control and, like Tony Bennett, an unerring sense of time. The jazzy songstress delivers a finger popping and bluesy version of "Soalin'." The highlight of this CD has to be Montgomery's burning rendition of "Children Go Where I Send Thee." The almost nine minute track allows both singer and pianist plenty of room to "groove" and they swing with emotion. Wow!

The closer is in Montgomery's trademark style. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is best accompanied by a warm fire, dimmed lights and glass of wine. Enjoy!

Tracks: I'll Be Home For Christmas, What Child Is This, Lo How A Rose E're Blooming / Coventry Carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Carol Of The Children, O Come O Come Emmanuel, A' Soalin', Children Go Where I Send Thee, O Holy Night, Have Your Self A Merry Little Christmas.

George W. Carroll/The Musicians' Ombudsman

Indicative of the upcoming Christmas holiday, is the fine disc offered by singer Barbara Montgomery. Babs deals in the traditional, & the laid back as she takes us on a musical sojourn of some of the more engrained songs dealing with Christmas.  Barbara interprets her lyrics meaningfully, & the musical definition of her songs are delivered with both imagination & a logical cohesion that injects an interesting level of mood in her arias from a mild irony, to raw emotion & pathos. This is a woman who I'm sure can ''move''  an audience.

All About Jazz

September 18, 2005


Barbara Montgomery | records, a division of Mr. Bean & Bumpy Music, Inc.

By George Harris

Along with the maternal instincts of Nnenna Freelon and Carmen Lundy, add Barbara Montgomery, who delayed a singing career to raise a family. Chalk one up for motherhood, as this CD of originals and '70s compositions reflects a woman with something to offer.

Equipped with a husky voice (think Benny Carter's alto with lyrics), Montgomery simmers through a set of moody, reflective, and serious pieces. Evoking emotions similar to Branford Marsalis' Eternity, Trinity is more a tone poem than a collection of songs. Each piece deepens the mood; the percolating and rumbling percussion is an underlying backdrop to Montgomery's world-weary stories. “I Fall In Love Too Easily” sets the mood, with little change in spirits from her reading of Van Morrison's “Crazy Love.”

The fact that there are two songs by Leonard Cohen speaks volumes. Montgomery's own compositions (along with Aaron Graves') are deep and full of gravitas; her unique timbre and enunciation carries you through and holds your interest for the entire 70-plus minutes. Not many singers could hold your interest that long in one mood. This lady knows her strengths, and she sticks to them. Strike one up for the advantages of motherhood!

June 29, 2005

''Trinity'' MBB005

CD Review

Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Trinity is a very different recording for singer Barbara Montgomery. For one thing, she co-wrote five of the 12 songs with pianist Aaron Graves. Also, a couple of the songs are in French and even on the English songs, she often hints at an exotic French accent. In addition, there is a pair of Leonard Cohen songs. The only older standard is "I Fall in Love Too Easily" although Van Morrison's "Crazy Love" almost qualifies. The emphasis throughout is on ballads and is as much pop and cabaret as it is jazz. There are some nice instrumental touches from Graves' keyboards, Joe Ford 's soprano on "Little One," and flugelhornist John Swana on Stevie Wonder "If It's Magic." But the main focus is on Barbara Montgomery's haunting and atmospheric voice, which is a taste worth acquiring.

June 26, 2005

Media Alert: Barbara Montgomery ''Trinity'' MBB005

CD Review

Barbara Montgomery  -   Trinity     3/3

O's Notes: Her deep voice is projected on top of a balanced supporting musical landscape. The program is popular ballads sung in both English and French, a split of newly arranged covers and originals. The lyrics are a meaningful set of inspirational stories. We particularly liked the title track with Joe Ford echoing Barbara's voice and soloing on soprano sax. Overall, the results are a peaceful and provocative performance.

D. Oscar  Groomes

O's Place Jazz Newsletter

P.O. Box 2437

Naperville, IL 60567-2437

Issue # 72:

Zzaj Productions & Improvijazzation Nation

Dick Metcalf, aka Rotcod Zzaj

Prime perpetrator & Incipient Instigator

Barbara Montgomery - TRINITY: I'm seldom inclined to listen to music with "religious" overtones or influences... what sets Ms. Montgomery's latest effort apart, though, is that there's no "preaching" involved.  It does have a deep "spiritual" pull, primarily because of Barbara's clear skill at wrapping the listener in a cocoon that allows them to escape the mundane & paltry, & let them feel the power (we all have) of the music she sings.  Solid jazz influences, but th' "roots" of the music composed and played here extends across musical borders to make it less "jazz" than "accessible to all".  Barbara has a most haunting quality in her vocals... deep & resonant, exactly the quality I'd imagine those "sirens" of old using to draw listeners (inescapably) to them.  Her rendition of Stevie Wonder's "If It's Magic" is the best (besides Stevie, of course) I've ever heard.  The album features a cast of musical characters far too long to itemize here... you'll have to purchase the album, or learn more at This CD is among the best jazz vocal CD's I've heard this year, & gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me!  You can purchase the CD soon, as it hits the streets on 1 June, 2005. Contact via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

May 7, 2005

Barbara Montgomery ''Trinity'' MBB005

CD Reviews:


Well, it'll make your hair stand on it's end when you take in Barbara's totally involved version of the wondrous Cahn/Styne jazz ballad, "I Fall In Love Too Easily." This fine jazz singer has to be included in those things we hold as '' a national treasure.'' Kudos too to the accompaniment which flows well cushioning her strong vocalise. Succinctly stated.....It's completely captivating. The last thing I want to say about Barbara Montgomery & her music is.....It is the antithesis of abstract........This is the real deal!!

JAZZIZ  July 2004

Excerpt from the feature article by Alexander Gelfand:


Plenty of fine female performers find contentment far from big bucks and major labels.

Philadelphia-based Barbara Montgomery has built a solid career without attracting due attention to herself...(this) may play to her advantage in some respects…facing little pressure to compromise (her) music.  While the industry breeds homogeneity, (she) remains defiantly different.

Aptly described by one critic as “the finest jazz singer you’ve never heard”, Montgomery may also be one of the most distinctive stylists in jazz, regardless of instrument.  On her most recent release, Little Sunflower, she reveals herself to be an extravagantly gifted texturalist whose expressive use of timbre, tone color, and register verge on the operatic.

Within a single phrase, Montgomery is capable of rising from a deep, bluesy growl to a crystalline high note, seamlessly modulating her diction to match.  There are moments on her adaptation of Chick Corea’s “Armando’s Rhumba” when her delivery veers quickly from high melodrama to bright-eyed cheerfulness that the whole performance verges on self-parody.

Although such dizzying changes in emotionalism can seem almost comic, they illustrate Montgomery’s adeptness at shading a lyric through cunning changes in inflection and nuance.  This form of virtuosity is rarely heard, and Montgomery’s particular brand is an especially well-kept secret.

Live jazz at the winery

For jazz fans who avoid live shows because most of them are held in smoky nightclubs, there is an alternative. At this weekend’s Chaddsford Winery Labor Day Weekend Jazz Festival, the only smoky element will be Barbara Montgomery’s voice.

Montgomery, who will perform on Monday at 3 p.m., has an expressive voice that’s deep, sinewy, emotional and silky. Her latest album, "Little Sunflower," which was recorded and mixed by Glenn Ferracone at the Music Centre in Exton, has received glowing reviews in the jazz press.

"My first awareness of music was when I was about 5," Montgomery said during a phone interview Tuesday. "I’d watch old movies with nightclub scenes featuring female vocalists. I said to my parents, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to sing like that.’

"Plus, my mother and father sang to us a lot, and the pop music of the ‘40s and ‘50s was jazz. My love of jazz solidified when I was a child living in Vietnam in the ‘60s, listening to the AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Station).

"There was a huge terrorist campaign there. There was a coup almost every month. AFRS and jazz became my haven."

Montgomery moved a lot as a youngster because her dad’s job as an engineer required him to work in a variety of places.

Montgomery had to adapt a number of times-- especially during a near-fatal bout with Lyme disease contracted from a tick bite.

"Lyme disease radically changed the way I live. It’s taught me a huge amount," she said. "It also left me with nerve damage in my right arm and hand and palsy in my face. The fatigue is a killer, and I can’t even begin to describe the pain.

"When I first contracted it, I didn’t show any of the normal symptoms. Then intense pain told me something was very wrong. But 11 doctors diagnosed me with 11 different ailments and not one said Lyme disease.

"Finally, they did blood work and realized what it was. My doctor said it was one of the six worst cases he had ever seen."

Montgomery has battled back and is again performing the music she loves. She has toured Europe a number of times and built a following in jazz-hungry Eastern European countries. She just returned from France after a short tour.

Many different projects have occupied her time, including raising two children as a single mom, continuing her studies in Buddhism (which started when she was a youngster in southeast Asia), working on musical projects with other artists and being a political activist focused on improving America’s gun control laws.

Montgomery is also an accomplished athlete who competed in masters swimming prior to her bout with Lyme disease. She also was involved in youth swimming as a coach and an official. Her son, Michael DiBattista, was a national-caliber youth swimmer for the Upper Main Line YMCA in Berwyn.

"I just started writing again," she said. "I finished four songs when I was in France. In my live show, I do many of the songs from ‘Little Sunflower.’ It’s a new album, but it’s stuff I’ve been living with for a while.

"Jazz calls to people in a very irrational way. Performing can give people such happiness. If you’re a jazz artist, you won’t make a million dollars. But you don’t have a choice when it’s your passion."

©Daily Local News 2003

A Fireside Chat With Barbara Montgomery

By Fred Jung

Barbara Montgomery’s music is interesting, and perhaps it is me, but I found Barbara Montgomery, the person, more so. Montgomery’s journey through life has been, dare I say, not the easiest one, but Montgomery, I am certain, would be the first to say that it all had its place in who she is today. Who she is today is a vocalist poised to be praised by the jazz in the know. How can you deny a vocalist who has earned the admiration of Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, and Teddy Edwards? I will take Hub’s words any day of the week. Interesting woman, interesting album (Little Sunflower), interesting life, and an interesting conversation, as always, unedited and in her own words.

FRED JUNG: Let’s start from the beginning.

BARBARA MONTGOMERY: My parents moved around the world because of my father’s job. We were engineering brats, so we kind of followed the military industrial complex around the world. There were five kids and my mother and father sang all the time to keep us in line when we were traveling around. The songs that we sang were the great standards from the Thirties and Forties, which was their favorite music. That and living in Vietnam in the early Sixties. AFRS radio was very influential in terms of the kind of music I was drawn to because it was very much like Good Morning, Vietnam. You had an hour of this and an hour of that. There would be an hour of pop music and an hour of jazz and that was the music that I couldn’t wait for, my hour. Living in that kind of altered state of reality, living in a war zone in the early Sixties, those kinds of things became our lifelines and that was mine.

FJ: In accordance with the film, one would assume you would have gravitated towards Martha & the Vandellas or The Supremes.

BM: Right, Martha & the Vandellas or something like that, but I was an odd child. What can I say (laughing)? I think combined with the music that I heard from my mother and father and the exposure to that at an early age. If someone wanted to be a multi-millionaire from an early age, they certainly wouldn’t be a jazz musician. But you talk to any jazz musician and it is the only kind of music they can play because that is where their heart is. That is where your passion is. I think it is very non-cognitive, something you can’t explain.

FJ: Tell me about life in Vietnam.

BM: We were there for about four years. It was a pretty wild time because we certainly didn’t know how involved the American presence was by what was being reported in the papers in the States. We thought it was an incredibly exciting place to go to and I remember we all had to run and get the map to see where is this place. We got there and found that not only was there the American involvement with the Viet Cong, the terrorists from the North, of course that is what we were calling them, but they were just trying to unify their country under Ho Chi Minh, who we happened to support in World War II and then we pulled the rug out from underneath. We were very involved in military action. We just weren’t telling anybody about it. There was that going on and there was also a very corrupt government in Saigon at the time lead by Ngo Dinh Diem. It kind of broke down, sadly, along religious lines as so many conflicts in the world do.

There was a very small Catholic minority in power really oppressing the very large Buddhist majority. I happen to be there when the Buddhist monk lit himself on fire and that is a very defining moment in someone’s life, to see someone that firm in their convictions. You also had a very intense terrorist activity that was going on where the Viet Cong were planting bombs in US installations and places where Americans would frequent. You just learned how to live in a terrorist war zone. It was Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It was the most magnificent place I have ever lived, the most magnificent country, beautiful people, and the most horrific place to be.

FJ: Living with terror in the times we live in is akin to the perspective of those who live in Israel.

BM: It becomes part of your subconscious, you unconscious, your primitive survival mechanisms, where you just learn to develop your senses in a different way. You go about living in a surreal atmosphere thinking it is absolutely normal because of the human ability for survival and adaptation. The toughest thing was coming back and readjusting to American society. We didn’t want to leave, but we had to go. We wanted to stay. But when you are in that environment, you do adapt and you do live life. You do your normal routines, just in the backdrop of a very dangerous situation. I am still not comfortable going near big crowds or when I walk into a building, I know where every single exit is. I don’t sit with my back to the door. These are things you have engrained in you because it is survival.

FJ: The traveling you did in your youth predisposes you to the nomadic lifestyle of a jazz musician.

BM: Yeah, I have lived in the Philadelphia area for a while. I raised my kids here and even though I leave town a lot, since I have been living here, I think I have moved, in the Philadelphia area, in the suburbs, probably about twenty times. You just keep moving around. It is like the music in jazz, to keep it fresh, we are always trying something new, doing something new. There are parallels everywhere. It makes a person much more comfortable with change. It is not such a frightening thing. In fact, it is a very welcoming, comfortable thing. Talking to folks in the music business, there are people who go out and perform the same music every single night. Whereas a jazz musician, when you start doing things too much the same all the time, you get uncomfortable, so you want to mix things up and change things and improvise and try something new all the time.

FJ: Favorite recording?

BM: It is always, for me, such a privilege and a joy to go into the studio. That environment is so magnificent when you have, as I have had, the fortune to be surrounded by some of the most remarkable musicians. Magic is created when you close those doors and you are in there. For different reasons, my last two CDs, Little Sunflower, which just came out a couple of months ago, and Dakini Land, particular standout a lot. Dakini Land, because it was a tribute to Chick Corea and his music. His music has touched so many musicians. His music is not easy. He makes it seem easy, but then you start tearing it apart and putting it back together again, especially from a vocalist’s perspective and you realize that this is really a challenge.

Between John Blake on violin and Terell Stafford on trumpet, Marlon Simon, Chris Farr, Barry Sames, and Tyrone Brown, I had just extraordinary musicians. I had a lot of them on that one and in all different configurations. It was much more produced in terms of having the number of people involved, but it came together in such a seamless way. I will never forget that Tyrone, when we left the studio said, “You did good, kid.” That one because the music of Chick was so phenomenal and everybody was so excited, so there was an amazing energy. On Sunflower, the majority of the songs were originals. I had written lyrics and worked with my writing partner Barry Sames, who is also the pianist and we worked on the music together. The songs that you write yourself are your children. So that one was a much more intimate and personal experience for me to have the musicians come in and interpret songs that we had written. It was an amazing experience.

FJ: I hate to harp on convention, but I think jazz singers and I am humming from the Cole Porter or Harold Arlen songbook, not Chick Corea.

BM: Well, Chick is brilliant. His music blew me away in the Seventies when he burst on the scene after his time with Miles and became a leader in his own right. The stuff that he was doing was amazing. Fast forward thirty years later and I was going through a particular difficult time and the song “Crystal Silence” was in my head and I wanted to find the lyrics. I was looking all over for lyrics to “Crystal Silence” and the jazz station in Philadelphia, WRTI, the program director Chuck Miller was a friend and I called him up and asked him. He said he didn’t know, but that I should come in tonight because Chick was going to be there for an interview. I drove down. He did the interview and I met him afterward and asked him if he had lyrics to “Crystal Silence” and he said that he would send them to me.

His generosity and kindness were just amazing to me and it was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted and he has been so supportive. There is a reason why nobody has done his lyrics since Flora Purim did it with him. It was hard. It is not that easy, but once you get it, it is just magical. The music of Harold Arlen and the music of Johnny Mercer is so beautiful and I sing them in performance, but for me as a musician, it is more interesting to me to find, like I am writing the lyrics to Freddie Hubbard’s tune “Little Sunflower” and that has developed into a wonderful friendship and collaboration. He has asked me to write lyrics to some other songs. I am thinking about really taking a look at more of Freddie’s material and seeing what I can do with that. I guess I am not your normal vocalist.

FJ: A jazz vocalist is really the stepchild to jazz musicians, the human voice never quite as respected as other instruments.

BM: Why is that, Fred? I guess human beings being what they are, we are all imperfect creatures. The jazz world isn’t any different. Like you said, the human voice is an instrument. It is a magnificent instrument. Maybe it is because somewhere along the line, some of the vocalists didn’t do their homework? I don’t know. There is a difference between the male and female aspect of it, which has been going on for all of time.

The musicians joke before we sit around and perform a gig. Chris Farr is the best at telling these jokes about “what is the difference between a vocalist and somebody else standing out in the rain?” “The other person knows when to come in.” But trombone players really get a lot of jokes too. But there is this kind of dichotomy between a real instrumentalist and a vocalist, which I don’t think should exist. Why any divisiveness is there bothers me and upsets me. Duke Ellington said, “There is either good music or bad music.”

FJ: You took a break from your career to raise your children. With the demands of today’s work environment, it is a choice parents have difficulty with.

BM: I was fortunate. I have two kids. My son is twenty-four and my daughter is fifteen. I was fortunate to have worked in a related business in the entertainment field for a while and achieve a certain level of success personally. I was a little bit older. I didn’t have the some kind of peer pressure that goes on not having family around here. My family is all over the world. My mother and father both passed away. So I didn’t have uncles and aunts asking when I was going to have a baby. Once I had my son, I realized that this was the most important job on the planet. I think every mom should have the choice at least for those first couple of years, which are so crucial. They are just absolutely crucial.

I think Western culture, particularly American society has done a great disservice to mothers and fathers and children in saying that you have to have it all. You have to have children and you have to have an incredible job in order to be judged a success. It is terrible. That festers so much unhappiness and insecurity in so many people and it just gets reinforced everywhere you look. It is never enough. Everybody is racing. If they would just stop, they would realize that this is a child. This is a miracle. And then we all wonder why kids are in such bad shape and why society is in such bad shape. It is because mom and dad weren’t home taking care of their kids. It is a direct correlation. When they get to be older, Columbines happen. It has become such a vicious cycle. It is difficult to say that I was going to stop working and I was a single parent as well and that was tough. It is a question of sacrifice. It is not a bad thing to sacrifice something of yourself for your family. We have gotten to be a pretty selfish culture. Rather than saying I don’t need to have all this material stuff, it is certainly going to make me happy anyway. For me, it was not a tough decision for me to make at all. Was it difficult in terms of financially? Yeah, but I would never trade it for millions of dollars.

FJ: I would be remised if I didn’t inquire about your time with Richard Simmons. I am fascinated with Simmons from his appearances on Letterman and the Stern shows.

BM: He is a fascinating person. He is brilliant. I am honored. I am really honored to have him as a friend, let alone have had the opportunity to work with him for so many years. It happened by chance that I met him. Being a single parent, I did have to work a little bit. I was fortunate to work with a company that had just signed Richard on when he first started with the Deal-a-Meal and he and I met and we hit it off and it just developed into a really wonderful relationship, musically as well as personally. He is all the positive things that you think he is and more. He is on the road at least a hundred and fifty plus dates making appearances all over the country and the weight loss programs that he has developed. His concern is not for the people who want to lose five pounds or ten pounds like I do. It is the people who have to loose a hundred, two hundred, or four hundred. The reason they overeat is not because they like to eat.

We have two main group of people who are untouchables-- overweight people who are extremely overweight and brain injured people because they don’t look like everybody else or they don’t talk like everybody else. We make all sorts of assumptions as to who they are and why they are. We assume these people are overweight because they have no self-discipline. That couldn’t be farther from the truth and Richard understands. He was a heavy kid himself. He understand the ridicule that these people have to endure. He understands that the majority of these people have serious unhappiness in their lives from abuse. There is some traumatic event that has occurred and they turn to food. It is very, very difficult for them to loose the weight and they want to. Richard believes in them. Richard will touch them and talk to them and listen to them. He doesn’t have to do this because he has been financially successful, but he has to do this because he cares about every single person.

In fact, two weeks ago, Fred, a friend of mine’s mother was trying to loose weight and I called Richard to do me a favor and give her a call. He called her up the next day. They had a long conversation on the phone and he sent her a whole bunch of stuff and in her first week, she lost eight pounds already. This is what he does. This is what he always does. Yes, it is easy to make fun of him because he cares, but he is a very secure person because he goes on those shows and lets those people make fun of him. He knows he can do far more good by being a presence and being out there. He is a very smart guy. I really respect him immensely. When I produce his music, he lets me do it and it is wonderful to have that trust. He appreciates everybody who works with him. I am very fortunate that my day job is music.

FJ: And the future?

BM: Last year, when I did Little Sunflower, I had just done Dakini Land and I had no intention of doing another CD. I produce these myself, which is wonderful, but at the same time, costs a penny or two. Then September 11 is when I wrote the lyrics to “Little Sunflower.” I wrote those for my daughter. I was writing and writing and writing and had to get it out. After I finished, I said that I can’t do this again because it just costs too much money. I was hoping to have a very uncreative period for a while and then all of the sudden, about two, three weeks ago, I am starting to get that itch again, which I am trying to ignore. I want to do a CD of just piano and voice. Then Freddie Hubbard’s music has been really calling me and Teddy Edwards, who we just lost, Teddy I met over the phone a couple of years ago. He was extraordinarily kind. He was so giving. We talked about the music and he was going to send me some charts because I love his music. I am thinking about looking at Fred and Ted.


America`s Jazz Magazine

Unless you happen to be an habitué of Philadelphia's jazzier nightspots, I'm willing to bet that Barbara Barbara Montgomery remains the finest jazz singer you've never heard. Montgomery's been around a while. She's paid her dues, both personally and professionally, several times over and has recorded a handful of albums (including Dakini land, a sublime salute to her longtime pal Chick Corea) as impressive as they are obscure. Through Montgomery bears more that a passing physical resemblance to Nancy Sinatra, any similarity ends there. Unlike Frank's game but Iimited daughter, Montgomery's musical abilities seems almost boundless. Her deep, resonant voice simultaneously suggests the soothing coo of Diana Krall and the seductive growl of Kathleen Turner. Her latest, self-produced release, Little Sunflower (Mr. Bean and Bumpy), demonstrates, too, that she's a keenly intelligent songwriter. Shaped by Montgomery as a heartfelt response to the events of 9/11, Sunflower is a shrewdly candid exploration of the frailty of the human condition, extending from the saucy disillusion of the simmering "When We First Met" to the naked ache of "As the Sun." In addition to six original compositions, Montgomery delivers nine minutes of extemporaneous rifting on power, freedom, fear, strength and grace, assembled under the catchall title "Vox Barbara." Corea is again evident on two tracks. "Armando's Rhumba" is three and a half minutes of spirited fun that sounds like a cunning send-up of Andrew Lloyd Webber's overblown ostentation. Conversely, "You're Always in My Space" is a gorgeous examination of genuine love's ability to endure even the widest physical and emotional chasms. Both were co-written by Corea and his longtime musical partner Neville Potter. Both add significantly to Little Flower's fragile majesty. Six words of advice: find it, buy it, treasure it.


Barbara Montgomery. "Little Sunflower," Mr. Bean and Bumpy Music MBB004.

Working in tandem with pianist/co-arranger Barry Sames, Barbara Montgomery has produced another stand- out CD in "Little Sunflower"-a distinguished follow-up of her previous recording "Dakini Land" (a tribute to Chick Corea which drew strong attention). A daring colorist, Ms. Montgomery possesses deep confidence and sensitivity achieving pointillistic thrusts in the interpretation of her song list. She has the wherewithal to make it easy for the listener to be entrapped without truly realizing it has happened. With her impassioned voice of enchantment, the songs exude flower freshness and invite more visits. Bolstered with abilities as a songwriter and lyricist, her personal song skills and talents are of an uncommon ring. From the opener, "An Illusion", forward to the last cut "Vox Barbara". The CD is a minefield of silken vocal trials accompanied by a color pool of musicians. John Swana's Milesian trumpet comments are just perfectly fitted to Montgomery's vocal and the aura created- impressive! Another cluster of magical moments can be tapped via Duke Pearson's "Idle Moments" as Montgomery sings her own lyrics that stimulate imageries in concert with her range of dynamics. Craig Ebner's tasty guitar interjections reveal alertness, and bassist Lee Smith is given liberal space for his solo statement...nice! It seems Montgomery has broken out of the compress of her local venue environments. The periods of nurture have lifted Barbara Montgomery to full efflorescence as an upper-tier jazz singer.


Jazz Spotlight

Expanding the Great American Songbook

By: Don Heckman

(Don Heckman writes frequently about jazz for The Times)

One could make a reasonable case of repertoire as one of the most difficult decision facing jazz vocalists of the new century. The first option for most is the standard catalog-the so-called Great American Songbook that has been part of the soundtrack of American life for more than half a century, embracing the music of, among others, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin and the Gershwins. It is a collection of music representing an extraordinary burst of creativity, most of it produced in a brief three decades, from roughly the mid-`20s to the mid –`50s. It is also a collection that has been examined with great thoroughness by pop and jazz artists (and some from the rock era, as well). Diana Krall, the most successful jazz vocalist of her generation, continues to mine its riches in her new, as yet unreleased album (see cover story).

Songs since the `60s have received far less attention. Lennon & McCartney pieces crop up occasionally; a few Stephen Sondheim tunes have made their way into the repertoire, as has the occasional Andrew Lloyd Webber song; and pieces by singer-songwriters such as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and Billy Joel have found their own advocates.

So what is a jazz singer in search of new areas of exploration to do? The latest crop of jazz vocal albums reveals some of the programming directions currently being explored. (Note that all the albums, even those from obscure labels, can be found at

Barbara Montgomery, “Dakini Land” (***1/2, Bjazz)

Montgomery`s name is not familiar, and it`s hard to understand why this talented, adventurous performer has not received wider recognition. The music of Chick Corea would not appear to be a likely source of song material. But when Montgomery was recovering from an illness a few years ago, she found herself repeatedly listening to his “Crystal Silence” from a Corea/Gary Burton album, calmed by what she describes as its “wonderful centeredness.” Recovered from the malady, she searched for the song`s lyrics, not certain that they even existed. She discovered they did, written by lyricist Neville Potter, who had also collaborated on many other Corea pieces. Gathering the material together, Montgomery produced this fascinating album, a collection of her silken vocal interpretations of a program of Corea/Potter tunes that includes “Crystal Silence,” “What Game Shall We Play Today?” ”Sometime Ago,” as well as three of her own Corea-inspired pieces.


August 24-26, 2001

Singer seduces with her voice

Barbara Montgomery, the “ice cream blonde, with the black coffee jazz voice,” will be adorning the classy subterranean Zanzibar Blue (215.732.4500) at Broad and Walnut streets, Philadelphia, tomorrow night for 8, 9:30 and 11:30 shows for just a $10 cover.

This sultry, sophisticated, songstress is perhaps the perfect singer for the club just named by Philadelphia magazine as the best upscale jazz club in town. They go together like champagne and caviar.

Montgomery can sing in a swinging vibrato like early June Christy or in a cryogenic cool jazz vein complementing the work of Chick Corea. Her most recent CD, “Dakini Land,” is, in fact, a tribute to Corea. It uses several of his standards as well as a few written by Montgomery and Barry Sames who plays piano and did the arrangements. Some of the numbers include: “Miles to Go,” “500 Miles High” and “Crystal Silence.” There are times when she can sound like the earthiest blues belter alive, depending, as much on her mood as the song charts. Her earlier CD, “Ask Me Now,” got rave reviews from various jazz critics worldwide.

For all of her sophistication, Montgomery is a California girl who traveled the world first as a teen-ager with her engineer father and later as a songstress. She is a working mother who does music consulting Richard Simmons, the nationally known health-guru entertainer. Early in her career, she did backup singing on the road with Harry Chapin and worked back stage on the “Mike Douglas Show” Montgomery`s backup band at Zanzibar will include Aaron Graves on piano, Lee Smith on bass, Ron Kerber on saxophone and Gregory McDonald on drums.

-True Van Deusen


Volume XXX, No. 34  August 22, 2001

Barbara Montgomery

Do a search under “female jazz vocalists” and you will come up with the same names: Ella, Billie, Sarah, Vaughn, Dinah Washington. All of them great – and all of them dead. Though many women have been singing jazz since Anita O`Day got a kick out of you, it`s as though they are underground rockers trying, from the basements of grunge clubs in suburbia to play loud enough to be heard. Barbara Montgomery is the most interesting of them, and I`m sure you never heard of her. You`ve probably heard of the guy who inspired most of the songs off her new album, Dakini Land: Chick Corea. Appearently, Montgomery got somewhat obsessed with Corea`s 70s music (not necessarily always a good thing) and put it together with her own original songs plus her strong identity as a Tibetan Buddhist. Yeah, it all sound a little odd, but at least she`s doing something other than trotting out the same old Cole Porter standards and breathlessly whispering them into the mic like Marilyn Monroe on JFK`s birthday. Thing about Montgomery is that she`s just as committed to jazz music – instrumentally – as she is to her vocals, so she gives equal time to the (excellent) musicians she surround herself with. The song, as a whole, is what`s important, and if her vocals can help out, all the better. As for those vocals, her voice is really deep and jazzy-smooth (but not smooth-jazz), which seems in contrast to her blond highlights and Miss U.S.A. looks. All in all, Montgomery is something of a puzzle, but not to be underestimated.

-Liz Spikol


Friday, June 29, 2001


By Steve Eddy

Barbara Montgomery`s “Dakini Land” is the Berkeley-born singer`s second album and is devoted to Chick Corea, featuring Corea compositions (“High Wire,” “Crystal Silence”) and some nice Montgomery originals, with the latin “The Reason Why” a particular standout. The album sets a high standard for itself with the lovely, lilting opening number “What Game Shall We Play Today?” – featuring wonderful tenor sax work by Chris Farr - and never lets down.


Little Rock, AR


April 15, 2001


By Gene Hyde

Special to the Democrat-Gazette

While on a slow and difficult recovery from Lyme disease, vocalist Montgomery found recurring inspiration in the music of Chick Corea`s return to Forever, and and this disc is a loving tribute to Corea and the unforgettable RTF vocalist Flora Purim. Montgomery and pianist Barry Sames recast and rearrange RTF tunes such as “500 Miles High” and “You`re Everything” to suit Montgomery`s straightforward vocals, and the stylistic contrast between Montgomery`s earthiness and Purim`s lightness is fascinating.

handful of Montgomery`s Buddhist-influenced originals round out the set (“dakini” is a Buddhist term for sky travelers). Overall, this hard-to-find CD strikes a beautiful balance of Corea/Purim tributes and well-written and arranged originals. It`s worth seeking out at




APRIL 11, 2001


Dick`s Picks/Dick Bogle


“Dakini Land”

Barbara Montgomery


Where has singer Barbara Montgomery been?

Or should it be, “Where have I been?”

This woman can sing. Blessed with a voice more dusk than dawn, it`s rich, full and naturally seductive, reminiscent of a young Bobbe Norris. Although six of her 10 tracks are Chick Corea compositions, one of the best is “Miles to Go,” written by her. An uptempo blues, she gives it a muscular but with a clearly feminine edge. Tenorist Chris Farr and trumpeter Terrel Stafford aid and abet in fine style.

“Crystal Silence” is a haunting Corea work in which Montgomery found solace after her mother`s death from Lyme disease.

You should know Dakinis are female sky travelers whom Tibetan Buddhist believe exist. They are protective, playful and compassionate beings. Funny, Montgomery`s voice seems to define all that.



FEB 25, 2001


"You're My Thrill,"

Shirley Hom (Verve)


"For Heaven's Sake,"

Jackie Ryan (BluePort)


"Dem Bones,"

Carla Cook (Max Jazz)


"Dakini Land"

Barbara Montgomery (Mr. Bean and Bumpy Music)


"Road House,"

Ruth Cameron (Verve)



All of the female jazz singers whose new albums are considered here know the meaning of cool. Unlike their instrumental brethren in Jazz, these women are not primarily, or even in some cases peripherally, intent on overwhelming the listener with their technical prowess  and gut-wrenching intensity. To them, subtlety and emotional restraint, sometimes bordering on world-weary ennui, are the cornerstones of a cool approach. But that doesn't mean theIr music lacks passion or romance. Swing and a blues feeling, those insisted upon cornerstones of the jazz canon as presented by the recent TV documentary "Ken Burns' Jazz," are not always central or even evident in Ruth Cameron or Barbara Montgomery. Yet they are, by virtue of their intensely individual approaches and transparent technique -that ability to do exactly what they intend to do -no less jazz singers than the more conventionally swinging, bluesy Carla Cook, jazzily hip-cool Shirley Scott or profligately gifted vocal treasure Jackie Ryan.

Of the five, only singer-pianist Horn, a near legendary artist, is well known in jazz circles today, although all of them have been singing for more than a decade. Cook garnered a 1999 Grammy nomination (jazz vocalist) for her debut album "It's All About Love " and has sung with the George Gee neo-swing big band in New York. Ryan is based in California and is best known there and in Europe, while Montgomery stays close to Philadelphia, where she is music director for fitness guru Richard Simmons. Cameron, who is married to jazz bassist-leader Charlie Haden, is a long-time actress who is finally making singing a higher priority

Barbara Montgomery has a silky, soft-focus voice with pastel tones and an intimate, misty quality. If Shirley Horn is often a vocal equivalent of trumpeter Miles Davis in his late-'50s spare, melodic period, then Montgomery can be compared to trumpeter-vocalist Chet Baker, or a jazz flute.

Dakini Land, her new album, finds her sharing music equally with variously constituted small  bands ill a program dominated by the songs of Chick Corea. His complex melodies challenge and inspire Montgomery, who has to negotiate octave leaps and quick-step sequences.

Montgomery also contributes,  with pianist Barry Barnes, three  originals inspired by Corea, and includes a revelatory version of the  standard "Like A Lover." This  album is enhanced by solos from  violinist John Blake, trumpeters  Terell Stafford and Bob Meashey  and saxophonist Chris Farr


Barbara Montgomery

Dakini Land

Mr. Bean And Bumpy Music

2000   Time: 64

Musicians: Barbara Montgomery (vocal), Bob Meashey (trumpet, flugelhorn), Terell Stafford, (trumpet), Chris Farr (saxophone), Craig Ebner (guitar), "Father John" D'Amico, Barry Sames (piano), John Blake (violin), Tyrone Brown, Kenny Davis, Chico Huff, Lee Smith (bass), Glenn Ferracone, Gregory McDonald (drums), Marlon Simon (drums, percussion), Doc Gibbs (percussion).

Songs: What Game Shall We Play Today, The Reason Why, Miles To Go, Crystal Silence, Carousel, High Wire, 500 Miles High, You're Everything, Like A Lover, Sometime Ago.

Rating: * * * *

Rather than recording just out of college and undergoing the promotional weight of a major label, as do a fortunate few jazz singers and musicians, Barbara Montgomery has taken her time in releasing her albums. The latest result, Dakini Land, reflects the experiences that Montgomery has lived, and it gives a sense of her deeply held beliefs as well. In essence, the revelation of a singer's character in her music is the true test of its value, whether she or he invests standards with personal emotional weight or chooses to develop alternative paths to expression.

Key to Dakini Land is Montgomery’s visionary synthesis of musical ideas and her own convictions. In large part, that synthesis recognizes Chick Corea's melodic excellence, but rather than investigating Corea's more well-known tunes, like "Spain," Montgomery has chosen to reveal the crystalline beauty and lyrical logic of less frequently played songs like "Sometime Ago" or "What Game Shall We Play Today?" Perhaps the fact that Corea holds steadfast religious convictions appealed intuitively to Montgomery, for as a Buddhist, she has found delightful symbolism and philosophical guidance in the music.

For instance, the name of the album refers to the spirits, dakinis, within the Buddhist religion that provoke play and protected comfort. Having spent several formative years in Viet Nam with her father, who worked there as an engineer, Montgomery brought back to the United States the values of that religion. Her bout with Lyme's disease also had a profound influence on her music, and Corea's "Crystal Silence" brought her hope during her convalescence. The stretched-out serenity of that tune, with words by Corea's collaborator Neville Potter, forms the fulcrum for the entire CD.

While all of that description may sound deep and dreary, just the opposite is true. Montgomery uses her husky and charming voice to entertain through the allure of music. The melody and lyrics are primary; the underlying message is secondary and perceptible as a consideration of the whole.

Montgomery and co-producer Barry Sames have assembled a group of some of Philadelphia's finest musicians to join in the effort. From Chico Huff's first loping electric bass lines on "What Game Shall We Play Today?" which kicks off the album, through John Blake's flowing violin solo on "The Reason Why," and on through the rest of the album, it is obvious that the musicians not only are engaged in the music, but are inspired by it.

While Corea provides six of the ten compositions on the album, Montgomery creates three of her own, and includes Alan and Marilyn Bergman's "Like A Lover" to round out the project. Montgomery's three songs give an indication of her spirit of self-sufficiency and determination: "I make the money, pay the bills, raise the kids; Feed the hungry, save the world--all of the biz. 'Please help me' are words I don't know how to say. If you can't give without me asking, I don't want it that way." In spite of it all, she has kept her child-like wonder: "Play with the light. Play with the dark. Play with the child. Stay here a while. Don't stop."

Thus, Dakini Land is one of those CDs that is more than the presentation of a vocalist's skill. It's an enjoyable expression of her being.

- Don Williamson


Barbara Montgomery

“Dakini Land”

Two Beans Music – Vocal Ballads

Performance: 4   Sound: 5

O`s Notes: This is an excellent combination of rich vocal & swinging music. Barbara selects Chick Corea`s compositions as inspiration and stays with the rhythms as if they were her own. Chico Huff brings a cool Latin feel on four of the tracks including “The Reason Why”, a strong song including a nice violin solo by John Blake.


Dakini Land

Barbara Montgomery (Two Beans Music)

By Dave Nathan

Barbara Montgomery, who has embraced Buddhism, takes the music and words of Chick Corea written mostly with Corea`s long time collaborator Neville Potter, as well as her originals, and turns them into not only a tribute to Corea, but an exultation of a place in the Buddhist tradtion, Dakini Land, a place in time that celebrates the female spirit. Montgomery and cohorts present musical themes designed to create of possible experiences in this celestial place. There`s happiness with a “High Wire” that swings with Terrell Stafford`s muted flugelhorn carrying the music “up to the wire (where) I like to climb an play with the sky”. Providing a contrast to this high flier is a lovely ballad, “Like a Lover”, perhaps representing solitude, once more with Stafford`s flugelhorn prominent. It`s good to hear Stafford in this setting rather than only in the traditional jazz milleu where one usually finds him. He is as equally at home here as he is in New Orleans. Peace and repose comes with Chick Corea classic, “Crystal Silence” with Chris Farr`s sax set against the mournful bowed bass of Lee Smith and oriental cymbals of Doc Gibbs. But the Dakini also can represent discontent as heard in a frenzied, Latin-based version of another Corea classic, “500 Miles High”. Of the Montgomery originals, the most compelling is “The Reason Why” whose is driven by the scorching violin of John Blake.

The outcome of all this is an electrifying listening experience. For those who want learn more about Dakini go to This album can be purchased from Barbara`s website, Lyrics are in the liner notes. A portion of the sales proceeds are being donated to the American Lyme Disease Foundation.

Track Listing: What Game Shall We Play Today, The Reason Why, Miles to Go, Crystal Silence, Carousel, High Wire, 500 Miles High, You`re Everything, Like a Lover, Sometime Ago

Personnel: Barbara Montgomery – vocals, Tyrone Brown, Lee Smith – acoustic bass, “Father John” D`Amico, Barry Sames – piano, Kenny Davis, Chico Huff – electric bass, Craig Ebner – guitar, Chris Farr – tenor saxophone, Glenn Frracone, Gregory McDonald – drums, Doc Gibbs – percussion, Bob Meashey – trumpet/flugelhorn, Marlon Simon – drums/percussion, Terell Stafford – trumpet/flugelhorn, John Blake – violin


Barbara Montgomery

A frequent presence on the Philly jazz and cabaret circuit, Barbara Montgomery has often been pegged as a standard bearer – another pretty face singing the same old songs. Her recent album Dakini Land, self released on the Mr. Bean and Bumpy Label (and available through, proves otherwise. Backed by such local notables as John Blake, Terell Stafford , and collaborator Barry Sames, Montgomery performs an entire repertoire dedicated to the music of Chick Corea, It`s an ambitious gambit tat ultimately pays off: consult her lovely cover of “Crystal Silence”, or her ebullient rendition of “500 Miles High.” Or check out her original tunes: a Brazilian-tinged (and very Corea-sounding) “The Reason Why,” a bluesy “Miles to Go,” a tender “Carousel.” Here, and throughout the disc , Montgomery puts special emphasis on her message – a personal philosophy shaped by her Buddhist faith.

-Nate Chinen




Described once as an “ice cream blonde with a black coffee jazz voice,” vocalist Barbara Montgomery is a superb storyteller on her new CD entitled Dakini Land. The 10-song collection features Montgomery`s splendid timing and phrasing on six evocative covers of Chick Corea compositions with new lyrics added by Neville Porter and Tony Cohen. Barbara Montgomery wrote three songs and also performs one full-bodied cover of Alan and Marilyn Bergman`s “Like A Lover.”

I`d like to burst into jubilant praise to the assenting angels that have inspired Dakini Land. The spirituality and quiet beauty of “Crystal Silence” seems to be accompanied by a host of angels, beautifully playing the melody in Barbara`s voice through the new lyrics. Her cover of “Sometime Ago” includes the lively Latin rhythms inherent in the original composition but she adds the violin of John Blake to bring its romantic essence to the heart. The rhythmic, playful smile in her voice is as though she is sharing a secret on “500 Miles High” and listeners are made aware of her peaceful essence on “High Wire.” Barbara Montgomery has a heavy imagination that works well through her muse on this celebratory and irresistible collection of fluid vocal virtuosity.

DAKINI LAND ranks above her highly acclaimed 1999 CD, ASK ME NOW due to the new vocal interpretations and lyrics that have been added to the brilliant music of Chick Corea. Barbara Montgomery`s inspired vocals, vividly chronicle how these songs have continued to reach out to us in a totally new way! BUY THE CD!




By A.D. Amorosi

For the Inquirer

The chanteuse has too long had a bad rap. Throughout the torchy `20s and `30s, she was tragic, chirping only wronged-romance songs through gaslight. (Maybe she was sad because the lighting was so bad. Nobody asked.) Lighting fixtures got better in the `40s and `50s, but romantic circumstance didn`t.

In this more enlightened age, however, the female jazz singer no longer needs a good man or a bad man. She faces her myriad problems with brighter solutions at the flick of a switch.

Philadelphia`s Barbara Montgomery and Chicago`s Patricia Barber are cut from the mold.

There are hints of Ella and Shirley Horn in their cool emotional phrasing. Their music employs quietly complex rhythms and an arch anti-sensuality, lifting their mannered voices slightly above the fray of interplay.

The songs they sing – self-penned or well-chosen covers – have the weight of pragmatic blues, an artful lyricism that chases down a devil only to say “so what” upon capture.

But comparisons end.

Montgomery`s new CD, Dakini Land (Mr. Bean and Bumpy), is bright and spirited, lush with a jittering pulse and breezy arrangements laid courtesy of Philly`s most accomplished jazz musicians (violinist John Blake, bassist Tyrone Brown, pianist Father John D`Amico). Barber`s new CD of standards, Nightclub (Premonition/Blue Note), is spartan and dark.

Montgomery`s Dakini is laced with the spirits her album is named for: Tibetan Buddhism-derived angels who act as protectors. Hovering over Dakini is the melodicism of pianist/fusion great Chick Corea, upon which vocalist Montgomery and penpal Neville Potter have created a lyrical palette that pulls the light from the dark. Montgomery`s Kahlua-creamy voce often has an added shot of vodka for rhythmic punctuation.



By Al Hunter Jr.

Daily News Staff Writer

It`s been two and a half years since jazz singer Barbara Montgomery was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and the going hasn`t been easy.

Antibiotics killed the bacterial infection, but not before the tick-borne disease had done its dirty work. “Unfortunately, it went into my spinal column and brain,” Montgomery said a few days before her scheduled weekend appearance at Zanzibar Blue. “The havoc that it can wreak can last a long time.”

Aside from fatigue that sometimes comes out of nowhere, the disease has affected her right arm and hand.

“They`re not too reliable,” she said. “And they hurt.”

But buoyed by her Buddhist faith, Montgomery continues to work. A single mother of a 22-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter, Montgomery sang in Philly jazz clubs and did TV production for such shows as “The Mike Douglas Show” in the 1970s.

Now she produces music for fitness guru Richard Simmons and his workout video tapes. Montgomery`s newest album, “Dakini Land” (Mr. Bean and Bumpy Music), is a tribute to pianist Chick Corea. The release also contains some originals by the Haverford resident and sports a strong core of Philadelphiaarea musicians, including John Blake, Tyrone Brown, “Father John” D`Amico, Barry Sames, Lee Smith, Marl9on Simon and Terrel Stafford.

“Chick is such a major musical influence on my life in the 1970s,” Montgomery said. “He was one of those people who blew (jazz) apart apart and took it to that next place, not unlike what happened with Miles, Monk, Dizzy and the whole bebop thing.”

Montgomery got permission from Corea to rearrange songs, such as “What Game Shall We Play Today,” “500 Miles High,” Sometime Ago,” “You’re Everything,” and the mystical ballad, “Crystal Silence,” which Montgomery said had been “haunting me for a long time.”

The result: Montgomery`s smoky voice floats in Corea`s mystical environment, which invites freedom but, like a crystal bowl, keeps the collection of musical thoughts contained inside glistening boundaries.

“His vocal works hadn`t been done in depth since Flora Purim did them in the `70s.” Montgomery said.” “ And I found out why. It`s hard. He`s all over tha place.”

While recording “Dakini Land” (in Tibetan Buddhism, dakinis are female sky travelers full of bliss and wisdom), was Montgomery thinking “concept“ album?

No, she said. “I don`t think artists, especially independent artists, necessarily think about that. You have to sing where your heart is.”

Co-executive producer of the album is Don Lucoff, a longtime jazz publicist based in Bala Cynwyd who Montgomery said volunteered for the job. “He keeps me on track.”

A heavy traveling and performing schedule plus a bout with the flu caused Montgomery to lose her voice this week. But she plans to make her Zanzibar gig with her quintet. “I`ll be there,” she said sounding a little raspy. “With a very understanding crowd, I hope.”

Zanzibar Blue is at Broad and Walnut streets. Sets are at 9, 10:30 and midnight tonight and tomorrow. Cover: $10. Info: 215-732-4500

Dakini Land

Barbara Montgomery (Mr. Bean and Bumpy Music)

By Don Williamson

Barbara Montgomery's recordings may not be retailed in vast quantities, and thus they be immediately available to listeners who enjoy enlightening jazz singing. But her latest recording, Dakini Land, is worth seeking. Perhaps suffering the ironic plight of Diana Krall --  that her physical appeal distracts from the perception of her inherent vocal talent  -- Montgomery leaves no doubt about the depth of her insight or commitment in this album focuses on the often overlooked vocal potential of Chick Corea's music.

No, "Spain" doesn't appear on Dakini Land. Rather, Montgomery investigates Corea's tunes that  have a personal significance for her. A practicing Buddhist who adopted the religion as witness to Vietnam's social upheaval when she lived there as a girl, Montgomery has added the expression of her religious commitment through her music. Corea's compositions, an especially "Crystal Silence," had a spiritual and therapeutic effect on her when she was recovering from Lyme Disease. In fact, some of the sales of Dakini Land are donated to Lyme Disease Foundation.

While philanthrophy is all well and good, in the end, it's the music that makes the album it's a pleasure to report that Montgomery interprets sometimes difficult melodies with ease and huskiness that lure the listener into her realm of deep inner feeling released through music. Surrounded by a group of friends who happen to be Philadelphia musicians as well, Montgomery takes advantage of the camaraderie evident in the spirit of the CD to create a fully real statement of her beliefs. Even the first tune, "What Game Shall We Play Today I" evokes Buddhist symbolisms of playfulness and immediacy. Dakini Land itself refers to Buddhist angelic entities with sprightly, overseeing characteristics.

In spite of the profound meanings of the tunes, Montgomery's music is entirely approachable particularly as it comes to life through the skills of musicians like lyrical saxophonist Chris Farr inspiring electric bassist Chico Huff or Montgomery's co-producer and pianist Barry Sames.

Montgomery diverges from her presentation of the influence of Corea's music in her composing of three tunes on the album, one of which, the clave-driven "The Reason Why ," she sings in Portuguese. A special delight on that track includes violinist John Blake's energetic violin over several choruses.

Montgomery ends Dakini Land in the same consistent spirit of joy and extroversion. Core "Sometime Ago," long sung tones over percolating percussion, emphasizes ever-lasting ( hope sustained through wonder, appreciation and play.

Track listing: What Game Shall We Play Today, The Reason Why, Miles To Go, Crystal Carousel, High Wire, 500 Miles High, You're Everything, Like A Lover, Sometime Ago

Personnel: Barbara Montgomery, vocal; Bob Meashey, trumpet, flugelhorn; Terell Staff( trumpet; Chris Farr, saxophone; Craig Ebner, guitar; "Father John" D'Amico, Barry Sames, John Blake, violin; Tyrone Brown, Kenny Davis, Chico Huff, Lee Smith, bass; Glenn Ferra Gregory McDonald, drums; Marion Simon, drums, percussion; Doc Gibbs, percussion


Featured Artist: Barbara Montgomery

CD Title: Ask Me Now

Year: 1999

Record Label: Mr. Bean & Bumpy Music

Style: Jazz Vocals

Musicians: Barbara Montgomery: Vocals; Steve Giordano: Guitar; Bob Meashey: Trumpet/ Flugelhorn; Steve Meashey: Bass; Bobby Shomo: Drums

One of the great joys in listening to Jazz interpretations are the many variations offered up by musicians. Even though you may have heard Round Midnight a hundred times, by most accounts the interpretation is always different. There is some twist, or inflection that adds so much to the piece. Barbara Montgomery is one such example. Listening to her is akin to the sensation one feels experiencing the soothing crosswinds of the Caribbean. This recording is perfect for late night listening.

Barbara opens up with the haunting piece "Estate". Drummer Bobby Shomo's light yet effective drumming and the sultry trumpet work of Bob Meashey capture the moment beautifully. Barbara floats over the melody with such a seductive tone. Guitarist Steve Giordano's light strumming captivate a moment so special, and yet so inviting for the listener.

"Never Let Me Go" is one of those classic love songs that has remained in the vernacular of the American songbook for many years. Steve and Bob's opening moments set the mood for this elegant version. Barbara voice is an excellent example of how control, feeling, and emotion can combine to create an aura so confident and musical. Her approach reminds me of the great Helen Merrill. The chord changes are explored by her band to great effect and restraint.

Steve Meashey's bass intro again sets the mood for a quiet and yet inviting "Invitation". Barbara's voice emerges smoothly to sing the melody. Bob's ever present trumpet as well as Steve's always present guitar cascading Barbara's every note.

Even her rendition of a standard like "Skylark" is so special. Hanging on every word and phrasing like there is no tomorrow make this version a joy to the ears. Bob's trumpet work at times sounding distant (to great effect) compliments Barbara's voice perfectly.

Barbara's voice is never dominant. Always working within the framework of her band. She also has that uncanny ability to draw the listener into her world, and captivate them for the entire moment. Never losing her way and always true to the song. I can't recall ever hearing anyone sound quite like her. Her delivery, choice of material and ability to create an atmosphere like no other. Throughout this recording one is reminded of the great Sarah Vaughn's way of handling a ballad. Twisting, turning, weaving and riding along the melody. These trademarks are here. You will want to set your CD player to auto repeat. One can only hope that Barbara continue to record and offer many hours of joy to those who enjoy this kind of vocal artistry.

Barbara Montgomery: Ask Me Now

The Green Mountain Jazz Messenger, November ~ December 1999

There are many things going on here. The songs are newer, the style is old - simple, slow, and sultry. Her backing is soft; still it stands out. And while it's low-key, the impact is considerable - mostly it comes from the delicious mood. Mostly it's Barbara.

The rhythm is led by Giordano's guitar - this gives a light touch and works great on the sambas. Deep she goes on "Estate," strength to the lower notes and brass sighs from Bob Meashey. Lots of quiet strength, especially when she whispers at the fade. "Spring" paints a nice blue: hear the brushes as the rain comes down. Giordano sounds wiry, Bob comes on like trombone, and Barbara spreads her cool sadness in seamless clouds. "I had to express myself musically." Say that again!

Love is the dish here, and it comes in all tastes. "Never Let Me Go" is Grand Romantic, Barbara creamy as the guitar warbles soft. Bob has Chet Baker gentility, and the brushes are golden. Old-fashioned as a flowered hat, and just as pretty. "Shape of My Heart" is vivid and morose: the words are sly, the voice enigmatic. Hear Bob, pure as a French horn; touch her emotions and sense the mystery.

"Invitation" shows the Torrid Thrush, a passion that builds while the melody twists. Bob solos his best, and Barbara comes back with more heat. "Desire" is yet hotter: the sole original, it sends her high, inviting and lush. The backing is busy; when it's Barb and guitar, the feeling is gorgeous. Now for the drummer: Bob Shomo is on fire, a thousand sounds that build excitement. And so does Barbara, especially here.

We leave on a surprise: versified Monk, sung with a smile. Jon Hendricks' words start a bit awkward, but how they blossom! So does Barbara; just her and Giordano, some open space and a warm echo. Intimate and cute, it lingers with love, hoping the mood lasts forever.

So will you - those desiring subtle sounds and a big heart should ask her now.

Ask Me Now

Jazz Improv, 1999

By John Barrett, Jr.

This takes its time. In 30 years of singing, this is her second album - many would shout for attention, but Barbara whispers. And that's what she wants, for it makes you hear closer.

You get the mood in a heartbeat. A light guitar rambles with a gentle horn - it's simple, and gracefully strong. Barbara is a perfect match: creamy tone, husky in the low notes, and stately. Taking Chris Connor's advice to "be yourself," Barbara goes slow and smooth, letting the words to "Estate" sink in with the weight they deserve. It fits like the gown on the cover, and just as sleek. Steve Giordano bends his solo with a touch of Spanish; his charts make it work, as much as his playing. It leaves now, and hear her smolder. That's how it goes: subtle, sweet, and it captures you when you least expect it. And that is a good place to be.

Giordano starts "Spring" with rolling figures: a stream our leader stands before. Barbara smiles on the high notes, and lingers grey as she ponders the elegant words. Bob Shomo is precious: a faint: a stream our leader stands before. Barbara smiles on the high notes, and lingers grey as she ponders the elegant words. Bob Meashey is precious: a faint flugeling that sobs like a French horn. Barbara weeps herself: when she says "my condition must be chronic," you'll catch it too.

The sound goes modern on "Falling Grace," a busy buzz from Steve Meashey. Here she has passion, a warmth Bob makes stronger. "I wanted my lyrics to make the song . . . more personal and more emotional;" true on both counts. Sting's "Shape of My Heart" is thoughtful and spare: soft strings frame her moody musing, the words unfolding with charm. The composer often plays with jazz; this is real, and it's real good.

"Invitation" isn't fast, but it takes us up a notch. Drums patter busy; Bob takes his best solo, easy but strong. The words sparkle and Barbara is torrid; a siren's song if ever there was one. "Desire" is more of the same, a sexy samba she wrote with Steve. He burns with aggression and she is hot. The turbulence builds, and love those splashy drums. It impresses me greatly, and fades in a cloud of steam.

"Skylark" belongs to Bob; his tender wisps are the sound of a dream, made better by her cooing. The perfect mood, and yes, it flies. The farewell is a surprise: "Ask Me Now" with words by John Hendricks! Her notes smile, as Monk's do; the words start funny but they grow on you, like the guitar part. The two are alone, with an echo she embraces.

And you'll embrace this: it's the sound of love, with classy tone and a slow touch. It might be slow for some tastes, but if you want this mood, it wastes no time!

Backtalk with Barbara Montgomery

June 1999

By Donald True Van Deusen

A new CD by Barbara Montgomery, arguably the loveliest looking lady singing in Philadelphia prompted some subdued responses from me with fiery feedback from her that I thought might be interesting to share with the All About Jazz readers rather than simply providing another record review. Singers and musicians almost never get the chance to provide feedback to comments about their work when they are made so we decided as Cole Porter put it, "let's do it."

Ms. Montgomery is a singer I once described as an ice cream blonde with a black coffee jazz voice and I will stay with that description. She's a west coast girl who spent some growing years in Vietnam courtesy of her world traveling dad and has worked from Philadelphia to Eastern Europe. Barbara worked as back-up crew on the Mike Douglas Show, plus singing with Harry Chapin and is music director for fitness guru Richard Simmons. She has worked with such top Philadelphia jazz figures as guitarist Jimmy Bruno and piano men Eddie Green, Sid Simmons and Dennis Fortune. Her grandfather, family legend has it, was the prototype for Jack London's "The Sea Wolf." I first heard her several years ago when she sounded a lot like June Christy with a provocative jazzy slur and kick to her voice and songs. She's a savvy singer and she's we savvy as well (has her own site at

Her new CD, "Ask Me Now," includes guitarist Steve Giordano (who also did all the arrangements) plus Bob Meashey, trumpet and flugelhorn; his brother, Steve on bass; and Bobby Shomo on drums. It includes everything from Sting's "Shape of My Heart" to Bronislaw Kaper's "Invitation" and Thelonious Monk's "Ask Me Now" and the Brazilian "Estate" along with such standards for such as me as "Skylark" and "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most". The latter song I feel has cast a spell over girl singers everywhere all of whom seem to sing it with an inevitability that is almost depressing.

And, now for the "he said, she said" part of it:

HE SAID: Barbara, I've played through the CD one more time with the sound up, no one in the house and my initial impression remains pretty much the same--that it all sounds too minor key or super cool as to be close to cryogenic. The group behind you obviously knows what it is doing and your singing style is clearly distinctive and arresting, but the mood is overpoweringly (to me) the same even with normally swinging tunes such as "Skylark." I liked "Once I Loved," "Never Let Me Go" and "Skylark" but whether it's a question of my being stuck in the past with the standards or the treatment here, I leave to you. No one is going to accuse you of playing it safe, but I would not expect any less from The Sea Wolf's granddaughter. Love, Van.

SHE SAID: Dear Van, I never expect you to pull any punches, but ouch! Cryogenic? Tell me what you really think . . . ! You did get the idea of it all being in the same mood, which is what I wanted to do with this, but I'm sorry it's not your cup of tea. Don't listen to Shirley Horn's "Here's to Life" or I'll have to come with a blow torch!! It was very important to me to create a mood and sustain it, rather than go back and forth and up and down (do they call that a concept album?), and especially at this time in my life with the recent sadnesses and lessons learned of the last couple years--I had to do a contemplative, reflective treatment, true to my heart. So there it is. At least there are a few you like . . . you can just pick the ones you like to listen to . . . ! Love to you, Barbara.

HE SAID: Barbara, I feel about you like the verse to "Melancholy Baby," because when you sigh and when you cry, something seems to grip this very heart of mine. My comments on the danger of the mood were cold commentary reflecting concerns for the commercial potential although with most the market place dominated by six year olds with unlimited spending money I'm not sure what the market is. After all, only 2.5 percent of the records sold are jazz and 2.3 percent classical and there really is no classical pop left. I run a risk in not soft-soaping my remarks but my reasons were as indicated, concern for your making a buck out of all this as well as being true to yourself. You can whisper songs I don't know in my ear any day of the week. Love, Van.

SHE SAID: Dear, dear Van--You must know how vulnerable we artist types are--I had hoped it wouldn't be so obvious--the blood draining from my wrists, that is. I know we need tough skin to do this, but of course, unknown critics can do me no harm--you I care about immensely, and wanted to please very badly. So thanks for the kind words--you know I will sing in your ear all day--and night--if you but ask.

Mr. Bean & BumpyMr_bean_and_bumpy.html