The Jazzcat

Lionel Loueke CD Release Party with Gretchen Parlato at the Vic

by on Oct.11, 2006, under News

Additional Photos

“I Can’t Help It” if I wanted to and wouldn’t help it even

if I could have the opportunity to see these two wonderfully emerging talents

every night, “I Got to Be There”. Here is the recipe; add six parts harmony,

one guitar from Benin,

sweetened with a mild Brazilian seasoning and just a pinch of Hancock. Cook for

two sets and walah, a perfect jazz soufflé for the evening!


Tonight is a special evening for many reasons. The


being that this is the CD release party for Lionel Loueke’s new album,

“Virgin Forest”. The second is because of the synergy of the audience

that is composed of

musicians from the Thelonious Monk Institute, as well as various

luminaries of

the press like Don Heckman of the Times, publicist Karen Nelson from

UCLA Live,

my boy from elementary school writer Scott Galloway (who wrote the

liner notes

to the CD), Chris Walker from the LA Jazz Scene and many other fine

appreciators of the music. Third is due to a performance that is real,


pure and intimate.


Many of us were invited to a beautiful feast prior to the

performance provided by Ray Slaton, owner of “The Vic” and lover of great music

and Tobias Tanner, president of Obliq Sound. Socializing with this group of

unique individuals is like a jazz family reunion. We all know each other and

each person respectively is responsible for contributing to the parts that make

the whole of the music here in Los Angeles.


After wine and great food we all went up the stairs to

settle in for what was to be a super quiet, pin dropping focal point of

beautiful musical intimacy. The Vic is set up like in a live performance living

room whose candle lit atmosphere is perfect for the precious sound of lovely

duet music.


Lionel opens the show solo on his guitar which has a frame

yet no body! I, as well as others, marveled at the calming waves of sound

bathing our beings with lovely drops of worldly waters. This is a celebration

of a man and his music, his journey, his travels, his knowledge and ever

captivating creations of emotional harmonic concepts. Joined by a special

spirit, Gretchen Parlato's soft angelic vocal qualities, warm as Brazilian breezes, encompass the

room and fill our souls with the lovely sound of soft kisses and caressed



She speaks of how the one and only Wayne Shorter hears in

colors and how Lionel totally gets the correlation. When Lionel plays you hear

the sounds of villages come to life as he gently caresses the strings of his

guitar; a symphony of polyrhythmic splendor.



writers, publicists and jazz fans alike make up the mix of this intimate

setting. It is wonderful being in a room of likeminded people who all know the

music on a very high level; quite a different feeling than just being in a

“normal” crowd at any given performance. This is not strange coincidence to

Lionel and Gretchen. They are used to performing in front of and playing with

the world’s best in the music.


“Doralice” is a piece composed with the flavors of Brazilian

multipart harmonies. It is a Portuguese song of love, the love of another and

love of the serenity of oneness that exist between a musician and his guitar.

Lionel wrote a song for Gretchen which was conceived from hearing the sound of

her lovely voice. When I spoke to Lionel, he told me that for him there is no

other; there is a special vibe he gets in a duo with Gretchen that he does not

feel with any other singer. Even though there is only voice and guitar, the

space is filled with layers of harmony. Every inch of O2 is caressed with tones

of loveliness.


At the moment, the world outside our musical haven does not

exist. Every being in this room has their audible sense calibrated at the

highest frequency focused on the pedals of brilliance that are growing and

blossoming before us. Duke Ellington’s “Azure” done in re-harmonized unswung 5

is an adult lullaby that is pacifying, warm and emanating with love for the

human spirit and soul. I find myself waiting to exhale after every song.


Herbie hops up and does not hesitate to sit in for the title

track of Lionel’s brand new CD “Virgin Forrest” on which he plays. The jazz

piano master and his students dive in the marvelous melody. Lionel and Gretchen

follow that up by performing one of my favorite Herbie Hancock compositions,



Gretchen’s high school teacher “Mrs. B” is here for the

performance as well and she is certainly proud of her former student. She heard

the uniqueness of Gretchen’s voice when she was in high school, pulled her aside and asked her to do the

Miles Davis piece, “So What”. She nailed it on the first try. That was the

beginning and there is no end in sight! She and her musical brother Lionel are

two extraordinary talents together and apart. Look for the brand new CD,

“Virgin Forrest” on Obliq Sound. The album is currently being released in other parts of the world and

it will be available here in the United States in sometime in

January of 2007. For now, don’t miss

an opportunity to see two of tomorrow’s legends, Lionel Loueke and Gretchen



Click the Pictures Above for interviews with Both Lionel and Gretchen on “Live with the Jazzcat”


LeRoy Downs

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