Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jazz research, Gretchen Parlato

Gretchen Parlato is a young singing talent originally LA. Initial seeds were planted for a future in music at the Los Angeles High School for the Performing Arts. She later received a Master’s degree from the prestigious, Thelonious Monk Institute’s intensive two-year jazz studies program. While at the Institute, she achieved the position of first vocalist.

She moved to New York to emerge upon the Jazz scene shortly after winning the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition with a notable award of $20,000. Receiving this award contributed to her swift visibility on the Jazz scene. Since then, she has enjoyed collaborations with many New York Jazz musicians and a weekly gig at the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village.

Additionally, since high school, Parlato has acquired an intense passion for Brazilian music, and with guidance from the undergraduate program at UCLA, has mastered singing in Portuguese.

Significant quotes about Parlato:
Jazz legend, Herbie Hancock has said, “[Gretchen Parlato] takes a lot of chances with her style, and it works.”

According to the music critic of the New York Times, “Parlato possesses a stealth device; . . . [her voice] enters the music, improvising in melody and rhythm, prying open sweet spots [for her own musical embedding].” He also commented on her brilliant ability to contribute to rhythm and dynamics within a piece.

My interpretation of Gretchen Parlato:
Her voice is deep and severely sensual; it has the clarity and some characteristics of a brass instrument.
Hopelessly and disgustingly feminine, I think of lace, ribbon, soft things
She is no tomboy.
Although love is her only theme and pink is her color of choice, I can’t hold the shallow simplicity against her; this girl is experimenting with scat, wordless vocals and loops, beboxing backdrops with some rhythm and blues' accents.

Sources:
http://www.gretchenparlato.com/
Ben Ratliff, New York Times. New York, NY: Sep 15 2004, pg. E1
Ben Ratliff, New York Times. New York, NY: Jun 8 2009, pg. C9
Andrew Gilbert, The San Diego Union Tribune. San Diego, CA: Sep 28, 2006, pg. NIGHT D

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