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.
Track Listing: I Can't Help It; Within; Butterfly; In A Dream; Doralice; Turning Into Blue; E.S.P.; Azure; On
The Other Side; Weak.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.