In his new album, Lee Barbour shares an experience at once personal and universal
(Clockwise from left) Lee Barbour; Barbour’s son, Rhodes, inspired his third album, Ultrasound, available at leebarbour.com.
It all began with a dream about a baby boy with blue eyes. “I still remember it so vividly,” says Lee Barbour, local jazz guitarist, composer, and owner of music production company Avant Garage. “I put more weight on that dream than I normally would.” Two months later, he and his wife, Vikki Matsis, learned they would be parents. “I felt the dream was a sign that I should do something artistically with the experience,” he recalls.
Barbour’s blue-eyed baby boy, Rhodes, is now a year and a half old. And this month, Ultrasound, the artistic project he inspired, debuts, tracing a family of two’s journey to becoming three. It’s a big departure from Barbour’s last solo release, Nonfiction (2012), and an ambitious undertaking—especially considering that the musician composed, recorded, produced, and mixed everything himself.
Each song has a distinct identity. The first to follow a musical prologue is “Angels Makin Angels,” with a funky, playful structure that seems to represent the very process it describes. Many songs employ audio samples, such as Rhodes’s in-utero heartbeat (on “Safe Now”) and the newborn’s first cry (“Birth”). In “Ms. Emily,” Barbour cleverly transforms a family friend’s reaction to the pregnancy announcement into a hip-hop track. And “A Quarter Of An Inch” is particularly arresting; hearing Barbour’s father recount a Vietnam War firefight, the listener is struck by the delicacy of life, realizing how lucky we are to be here breathing at all.
Barbour premieres the album in suitably unorthodox fashion, setting it as the soundtrack to a May 2 yoga class led by Andrea Cohen at Satsang in Mount Pleasant. Join in, or just sit and listen.
Photographs by (Lee Barbour & Rhodes Barbour) Keith Bradshaw & courtesy of (album cover) Lee Barbour