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I'm not really sure why Time magazine compares singer Patricia Barber (pictured right) to Diana Krall. That's a lopsided equation of apples and oranges if there ever was one. Krall is diva personified, a cool jazz traditionalist disguised as a pinup. Tossing tradition to the wind, the Chicago-based Barber is something else: eclectic, edgy, demanding and absolutely nothing like anyone you've ever heard--unless, of course, you've imagined an improvising vocalist who combines Beat-style wordplay with the urban irony of, say, Laurie Anderson. When she lands at Stewart Theatre on the N.C. State campus in Raleigh on Friday, April 11, Barber will bring along prickly poetry and charmingly minimalist piano-playing from her latest disc, Verse (Blue Note/Premonition), which accents the singer as songwriter. As a composer, she is a work in progress. As a stylist, she's already spot-on. Tix available at 515-1100.

Barber's fine guitar player, Neal Alger, may want to hang around town to check out a couple of reputable six-string-slingers who arrive next week. Monday, April 14, signals the Cat's Cradle return of the John Scofield Band, who cooks up crackling electric funk that deep-fries the mind and tickles the butt. The combo's secret weapon is one Avi Bortnick, a thrill-seeking guitarist who doubles as a mad scientist of digital effects. In Carrboro, Scofield-Bortnick & Co. will reprise groove-alicious tracks from last year's percolating Uberjam and preview fresh repertoire from the forthcoming Up All Night, both on the Verve imprint. Call 967-9053 for info.

  • In jazz

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