LJF Preview (2) Gretchen Parlato by Sarah Ellen Hughes

London Jazz Festival Preview- Gretchen Parlato

Gretchen Parlato catapulted to fame after winning the 2004 Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocals competition. A beguiling singer, her latest recording has won praise in abundance: “Parlato’s time has arrived… the most alluring jazz vocal album of 2009.” …. “The first truly original vocal jazz cd in many years.”

Jazz greats such as Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter are on her growing list of fans, and she has recorded extensively with fellow New Yorker and London Jazz Festival artist Esperanza Spalding.

There is no doubt that Gretchen Parlato is a stunning singer – technically gifted, and so in control of the song that she can turn it inside out and upside down without blinking, before returning it to its rightful way up. Her voice is intimate and delicate, although I find the whisperyness at times tiring to listen to. I yearn for a little more guts and grit. However, Parlato makes no illusion of doing things any other way; her most recent album is entitled “In a Dream.” Her own biography sums it up brilliantly: Parlato impeccably articulating in a voice so ethereal that the listener might very well feel that he or she is “in a dream.”

Parlato amalgamates a set with music drawn from the jazz/soul greats of the 21st century. Unsurprisingly, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock are on this list, joined by Robert Glasper and Stevie Wonder. Impressively, she writes many lyrics herself, but regardless of whose pen the lyrics have come from, she weaves and winds them to make them entirely personal.

Gretchen Parlato will make three appearances during the London Jazz Festival:

Friday 12th November Barbican Guy Barker’s Century of Song
Saturday 13th November Queen Elizabeth Hall guest with Esperanza Spalding
Sunday 14th November Ronnie Scott’s Gretchen Parlato quartet

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