All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

130

Gretchen Parlato: Norwich, UK, May 20, 2011

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Gretchen Parlato
The Playhouse
Norwich, UK
May 20, 2011

Gretchen Parlato has achieved something that is increasingly difficult in contemporary jazz, where originality and innovation seem too often to be viewed as barriers to a vocalist's success, rather than qualities to be praised and nurtured. She has merged her distinctive vocal style with an intriguing selection of material to create a sound that is unique and utterly compelling. Parlato's first British appearance outside London, courtesy of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, gave the Norwich audience a chance to see how this mix might work in performance; on this evidence, it works beautifully.

While Parlato's style is distinctive, it's not without reference points: there's an openness and fragility to her delivery that echoes Billie Holiday; an R&B sensibility that reflects Erykah Badu; and a soft and ethereal edge that has links with Scandinavian singers like Stina Nordenstam and Sofia Jernberg. Were she to use her voice simply to reinterpret The Great American Songbook the results would, no doubt, be intriguing, but Parlato is not content to tread the straight and narrow mainstream path. Instead, she writes new songs,; and seeks out the lesser-known, the unusual, and occasionally the out-of-fashion which—sometimes with the addition of her own lyrics-she reimagines and reconstructs to superb effect.

Parlato is not the most physically demonstrative onstage performer; she remained fairly static throughout the performance, except when playing a selection of small percussion instruments on tunes such as "Alo, Alo." But she has presence and charm, readily enabling her to hold the audience's attention throughout her 90-minute set, and she has a sympathetic and talented trio of musicians behind her.

Most of the set was taken from Parlato's The Lost And Found (ObliqSound, 2011): "Winter Wind" and "How We Love" were particularly affecting; her take on Thelonious Monk's "Ugly Beauty" warm and touching. She performed Mick Hucknall's "Holdin' Back The Years"—a major international hit for Simply Red in the '80s—in such an intimate and personal way that it could have been written especially for her. Another intimate moment occurred when bassist Alan Hampton swapped double-bass for acoustic guitar, joining Parlato at the front of the stage for a duet on their jointly composed love song, "Still."

While keyboardist Taylor Eigsti and Hampton both played with skill and showed some creative touches, it was drummer Kendrick Scott who took the musical honors on the night. His delicate, brushed, drum patterns that segued "Inner Dream" and "Holdin' Back The Years" together were expertly controlled; his sense of dynamics was acute; and his ability to shift from gentle, almost imperceptible washes of sound to rock-solid, emphatic beats was faultless. At times, the sound balance was a little too strongly in favor of Scott's drums, which meant that some of the subtler nuances of Parlato's singing and Eigsti's piano were rather overwhelmed, but such occasions were relatively few.

Despite critical success, Parlato is still relatively unknown in the UK. The quality of her music and her performance at the Norwich Playhouse suggests that her profile will soon be on the rise, and deservedly so.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
Read more articles
Live in NYC

Live in NYC

ObliqSound
2014

buy
Live In NYC

Live In NYC

ObliqSound
2013

buy
The Lost And Found

The Lost And Found

ObliqSound
2011

buy
In a Dream

In a Dream

ObliqSound
2010

buy
 

In A Dream

ObliqSound
2009

buy
 

Gretchen Parlato

Point of Departure, WMPG-FM
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read European Jazz Conference 2018 Live Reviews
European Jazz Conference 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 25, 2018
Read The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018 Live Reviews
The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018
by Doug Collette
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY Live Reviews
Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY
by Christine Connallon
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Detroit Jazz Festival 2018
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia 2018 Live Reviews
Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2018
Read "Diane Schuur at Birdland" Live Reviews Diane Schuur at Birdland
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Ellington's Nutcracker at The Jazz Corner" Live Reviews Ellington's Nutcracker at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: December 25, 2017
Read "Georg Breinschmid at Hong Kong City Hall" Live Reviews Georg Breinschmid at Hong Kong City Hall
by Rob Garratt
Published: August 20, 2018
Read "Bray Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Bray Jazz Festival 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2018