The Jazzcat

Gretchen Parlato at 55 bar in New York City

by on Feb.26, 2006, under News


The village is one cool epicenter of arts, music and

creativity.  While hanging out off the

beat and path at the International Association of Jazz Educators convention, I

had an opportunity to go see Gretchen Parlato at the 55 bar.  This is a tiny bar located right in Greenwich Village and where all kinds of great musicians hang

and display their wares.  Gretchen is the

2004 winner of the Thelonious Monk competition. 

The weather was treacherous, but Gretchen was someone that I had been

waiting to see perform. She is not only one of the sweetest and most

down-to-earth people you would ever want to meet, but her voice purifies the

air and pours into your soul like liquid love.


The Gretchen has had the opportunity to work with people

like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard and many others. You can

tell how their music has influenced her approach to the art and enhanced her

already warm, subtle, breathy and silently powerful style. Shirley Horn was the

queen of silent power and Gretchen has it too. She can blow the house down with

soft breezes, calming melodies and cool rhythms. 


Click on picture to go to Gretchen's Site

Her voice is soft, pure and precious.  Quietly you hear the lull of her Brazilian

rhythms and captivating tone of clarity. 

Her soft beautiful bossa slowly mixes through the room like the swirling

dark chocolate waters of insatiable sweetness. Lionel Loueke is another student

of the Monk Institute. He is from Benin

and the sound of his guitar mixed with his West African vernacular makes the

sounds of Brazil

copulate with language, love and music. Gretchen tells the story of lovers and

calls the next piece. The tune is “Doda Lese” translation, “It would be lovely

to be with you tonight, but I would rather just be here alone with my guitar”. I

guess every musician has two lovers.



She wrote the lyrics and performed a beautiful version of

Wayne Shorter’s, “Juju”.  While hanging

out with a Wayne,

she said she learned many things. “There was just as much wisdom in his words

as in silence”.  Wayne Shorter is a

unique individual, a genius and his presence is music. His words are the notes,

his smile is the melody, his walk is the metronome, his eyes are the direction

and his silence is the provocation of thought, sparking the creative genius in

all of us.


Listen, concentrate and hear her waves of warmth convexly

and concavely caressed your body with intricate Portuguese poetry. From Bjork

to Hoagy Carmichael to Wayne, the soothing vocal journey silenced and protected

us from the harsh wind and pounding rain that lurked right on the other side of

the door. When you have an opportunity, do yourself a favor and go see this

wonderful performer. Gretchen is a natural legal dose of tranquility, an

altering substance of the very best kind!


LeRoy Downs

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