Sally Barr shatters expectations of an instrumentalist (classical violinist/violist, pianist, and sometimes mandolin player), jazz vocalist, producer, and educator with a list of credentials that reads like the art section of a medium-sized city’s newspaper. As a Jill of these trades, master of each, Barr has become a sought-after and diverse stage and studio performer, musical mentor, and artist humanitarian.
Ms. Barr has performed and taught in a variety of musical settings in the US & Europe, (including the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, Opera Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Symphony; at Austin, TX hotspots The Off Center, Flipnotics & The Scottish Rite Theater in Washington and Oklahoma, New York & New England, France, Austria & Germany) featured as a violinist, violist, as well as performing on the mandolin in Mozart's venerable opera Don Giovanni. She has had the distinct privilege and pleasure of serving as Concertmaster of the Donna Summer Orchestra in Santa Barbara in 2005. She has twice performed at Live Oak Festival: with Mark O’Connor in 1998 and with the Gove County String Quartet in 2008. Sally has also performed with Sarah Brightman, Brian Wilson and The Moody Blues. Just as her tastes cannot be contained to just classical, jazz, pop, etc., neither can her bow be contained to four strings. One of Barr’s many instruments is a five-string violin, commissioned from master luthier, James Wimmer. She performs with the five string in multiple commissioned works by James Connolly, in addition to fulfilling it’s rock and jazz capabilities whenever possible....
Sally Barr and the SB Cats @ SOhO June 30
Sally Barr and her new jazz orchestra gave a fine and highly promising performance at SOhO on Monday night. Barr, a violinist who has long been a mainstay in that capacity on the Santa Barbara classical music scene, showed once again that she has a terrific voice and unerring taste in both material and musicians. The set list read like a lesson in crucial jazz standards, the kind everyone should know. Ain't Misbehavin' was followed by April in Paris, You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, and an up-tempo version of Blue Skies. The band, a handpicked assemblage of the absolute top players in town, included Jim Connolly (bass), Jon Nathan (drums/arrangements), Brad Rabuchin (guitar), Tom Buckner (sax/flute/clarinet), and Jim Mooy (trumpet). Everyone got plenty of solo time, and the Nathan, Connolly, and Rabuchin rhythm section did an amazing job of keeping things swinging. Barr's voice cut through the big sound with vibrant color and emotion, her phrasing a model of clarity and sophistication, and every word etched precisely in sound.
Just when Mooy or Buckner broke off another hot solo, Barr started in on the chorus again, and just when it seemed that it couldn't get much better, there was a break and the band became an orchestra. For Tenderly and What is This Thing Called Love? the main group was joined on stage by a quartet string section that included violinist Lisa Weinstein and Claude Lise Lafranque, along with Kirsten Monke and cellist Claudia Kiser. For some of these numbers, which were all fully orchestrated, Nathan left his drummer's seat and stood to conduct the strings. Monke took a beautiful cello solo on Tenderly, and Connolly took one of several splendid bass solos.
Caravan brought the collective back off the break sounding like the great house bebop orchestra this town (and venue) deserves. Green Dolphin Street followed, along with too many more classics to count. Ending with a particularly ebullient You Don't Know What Love Is, Barr and company showed that there is much more fire and passion to come.
Charles Donelan - The Independent (Jul 3, 2008)