Vocalist Gretchen Parlato is part Bobby McFerrin, part Theo Bleckmann, and David Binney. All men, yes. Parlato's voice is light as an apparition, ethereal and implied. She is fond of vocal gymnastics as is McFerrin. She shares a sense of humor in art with Bleckmann and a musical adventurousness with Binney. In A Dream is the recording Chet Baker would have made, had he been a woman. Both vocalists share an opaqueness in an otherwise transparent instrument.
Duke Ellington's "Azure" is a suitable vehicle for Parlato. It is one of Ellington's lighter pieces, one well-crafted for delicate voices like Parlato's. She delivers the lyrics in a breathy whir over Lionel Loueke's acoustic guitar. The neighborhood is vaguely Latin. Derrick Hodge's brief bass solo adds an organically integrated element to the piece, recalling the instrumentation favored by singer Cassandra Wilson. Much has been made of Gretchen Parlato, and for good reason.
I love jazz because it's sophisticated, international, atmospheric yet free, cool and warm.
I was first exposed to jazz through the sultry voice and flawless swing of my mother.
I met Mark Murphy, David Linx, Kurt Elling, and Youn Sun Nah.
The best show I ever attended was Youn Sun Nah in Paris.
The first jazz record I bought was Native Dancer by Wayne Shorter and Milton Nascimento
My advice to new listeners: open your mind and your ears, forget about structure, feel the textures.
Go see live music and keep buying CDs!