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Take Five With Kat Parra

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Kat: Kat Parra easily crosses over from classic jazz to steamy Latin jazz without missing a beat. The essence of Kat's musical journey is her ability to combine a mixture of different international styles to create a unique sound that is all her own.

Kat's focus, along with classic jazz standards, is the creation of new sounds around Spanish Sephardic music, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Peruvian, South American folklore, and a little bit of Brazil tossed in for extra flavor!

With Kat's three-octave vocal range, the marriage of these varied sounds and her facility for singing in multiple languages, an engaging and exciting musical ambiance is created that is not to be missed. Kat Parra will pull you into a world that will surround you with an international flair.

Instrument(s): voice, hand percussion.

Teachers and/or influences? Teachers: Patti Cathcart (Tuck and Patti); Bobby McFerrin. Influences: Celia Cruz; Sarah Vaughan; Al Jarreau; Dianne Reeves; Cassandra Wilson; My mom!

Your sound and approach to music: I have a world-flavored Latin jazz sound. My goal is to explore as many rhythms from around the world as possible and to mix them up, swirl them around and create a sound that is uniquely my own. I have a world-class group of musicians who support my music, and this greatly adds to the richness of sound that is created. My approach is to constantly be learning and growing. I hate to remain complacent and not be seeking out different approaches to music.

Your teaching approach:: Have fun, enjoy what you are hearing/playing and keep your mind open to new sounds. I teach mostly elementary school grades, and that helps to maintain a sense of wonder and excitement around music.

Your dream band: Omar Sosa on piano, Giovanni Hidalgo on congas, Zakir Hussein on tablas, Oscar Stagnaro on bass, Airto Moreira on percussion, Regina Carter on violin and Dave Valentin on flute.

Favorite venue: Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, CA. Fantastic sound, great people, wonderfully intimate venue where you can easily interact with the audience.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I am currently exploring creating new arrangements for Sephardic songs that were written between the 14th and 16th centuries. I am trying to keep the language of Latino alive through song and bring more exposure to this rich, multi-dimensional music. My other contribution is my attempts at fearlessness when singing—opening my heart and soul on stage and exposing my deepest self to others—being completely vulnerable.

Did you know... I was a classical flute student at UCLA for three years right out of high school?

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