With the release of each new album, Polish-born vocalist Beata Pater continues to defy predictability. An ever-evolving stylist, she’s the type of artist who seems comfortable in any genre, but whose greatest comfort is with her own unique artistic vision.
Tet, her ninth and most recent disc, feels at once like a full-fledged reinvention and a return to form. For the new disc, Pater has surrounded herself with an 18-piece ensemble — a wind and brass double quartet, a double string quartet, piano and bass — for an assured set of Great American Songbook standards, contemporary gems and three originals from her songwriting partner, Alan Chip White. Pater is a vocalist whose clean, resonant tone lends itself well to the lyric poetry of songs like “Old Devil Moon” and “Invitation,” but at the same time, it’s malleable enough to wrap around the more challenging contours of contemporary tunes like “Crystal Silence” and, especially,” “Little Sunflower,” an original by Freddie Hubbard that first appeared on the trumpeter’s 1967 album Backlash. (You can stream the album version above; for a live version filmed in Warsaw, click below.)
Pater’s version adds some extra lift and levity to the song’s gently ascending melodic lines, and her treatment of the lyrics — with an evocative deliberateness, and with sensitivity, not sentimentality — add a special glow to the words, which were written by Al Jarreau in 1979.