Kat Parra's voice may be the ultimate manifestation of the entire Latin music diaspora. While countless singers dabble in bossa nova or wander far and wide atop Afro-Cuban grooves, few people tackle the scope of music that Parra takes on. Engaging the totality of the entire Latin spectrum is no easy feat, but she seems willing and able to make it a reality.
Salsa sounds, Middle Eastern music, Sephardic traditions, Afro-Peruvian passion, Puerto Rican grooves, chamber ideals, classical influences, jazz standards and countless other styles merge into one cohesive whole when Parra opens her mouth and unleashes her confident voice. The graphic designer-turned-singer has been turning heads since releasing her debutBirds In Flight (Patois Records, 2007)and she continues to develop, expand on and refine her omni-Latin sound.
Las Aventuras de Pasion!, Parra's fourth album to date, features a large and talented cast of characters that assist Parra on her world travels. Riffing horns, rumbling percussion and mannered strings are all utilized at different times, in a successful effort to paint different pictures behind Parra's pipes. As many as a dozen musicians appear at once, as on the Puerto Rico-meets-New Orleans "Iko Iko" which gets the ball rolling, but Parra also knows how to scale things back and bring intimacy into her music; her album-ending performance of "Man On A Wire/Gymnopedie No.1," with pianist Murray Low as her only company, is the evidence.
Parra fills the space between these tracks with nine other numbers that show off her skills as composer, interpreter and world music conceptualist. Her tender and beautiful "Call Your Name" conjures feelings of longing, sadness and happiness all at once, "Morenika" takes on a mournful tone, thanks in part to Masaru Koga's soprano saxophone work and "Oye Papi," which features a short but winning trombone solo from arranger/producer Wayne Wallace, sizzles.
Las Aventuras De Pasion! isn't a radical departure from Parra's previous albums; it simply confirms that she's one of the most well-informed, astute and creative vocalists operating in the Latin jazz orbit today.
Track Listing: Iko Iko; Dieziocho Anyos; Call Your Name; La Comida De La Manyana; Morenika; Lo Siento Mi Vida; Yo M'Enamori D'Un Aire; Oye Papi; Durme, Durme; Nature Boy; Man On A Wire/Gymnopedie No.1.
Personnel: Kat Parra: vocals, hand claps (9); Murray Low: piano (1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11); David Belove: electric bass (1, 8); Paul Van Wageningen: drums (1, 3, 8); Michaelle Goerlitz: congas, percussion (1, 3, 8); Masaru Koga: alto saxophone (1, 8), soprano saxophone (5), shakuhachi (7), flute (10); John Worley: trumpet (1, 8); Wayne Wallace: trombone (1, 8), vocals (1, 4); Jose Roberto Hernandez: acoustic guitar (2, 10), hand claps (9); Sam Bevan: acoustic bass (2); Michael Spiro: congas, percussion (2, 4), bata; Michael Hatfield: marimba (2, 7); Chris Lopes: acoustic bass (3, 5); Mads Tolling: viola (3, 6);Lila Sklar: violin (3, 6); Emily Onderdonk: viola (3, 6); Mochi Parra: vocals; Colin Douglas: bata, percussion (4), Matt Lucas: bata, percussion (4); Curt Moore: drums (5); Katja Cooper: darbuka, riq (5); Renata Bratt: cello (6, 7, 10); Dana Pandey: tabla (7); David Pinto: baby bass (9), hand claps (9); Raul Ramirez: cajon, cheko, quijada (9), hand claps (9); Pat Parra: vocals (1); Wendy Wallace: vocals (1); Rafael Castro: vocals (1, 4).
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.