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  • Writer's pictureRosie G.

Gretchen Parlato

Throughout our Jazz Cafe feature, it's been more jazz bands, quartets, or trios. We want to focus today on this amazing jazz singer-songwriter whose lineage led her to her musical pursuits. Gretchen Parlato was born to sing, her grandfather played with the legendary Lawrence Welk, and her father, Dave Parlato was the bass player in rock legend, Frank Zappa's band.

Her music mixes both Bossa nova styles and classical arrangements. Her interpretations of songs are both intimate and passionate. She became interested in bossa nova when her mother played an album by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto. She says hearing Joao Gilberto's singing made her realize you can sing more intimately and use your voice to convey that intimacy and passion. While at UCLA she started taking some classes in Bossa nova and since then it has changed her trajectory. Although she has only released 4 solo albums Gretchen Parlato can be heard singing on over 80 jazz artists albums from Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, Terrance Blanchard and so many more. She is the first vocalist to be accepted to the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, Wayne Shorter calls her "unique" and is a big fan. Herbie Hancock has said Gretchen Parlato is magical in her musical connection. She released her self-titled album in 2005 and this past March released her latest album, Flor. She was nominated for a Grammy in 2015 for her album, "Live In NYC" in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category. Gretchen is the first to admit she is not a purist but a singer who loves Bossa nova and African music. She is a faculty member at the Manhattan School of music here in NYC. Check out this amazing vocalist whose interpretations of modern songs by Anita Baker, Simply Red, and Mary J. Blige are worth checking out. Support independent music and musicians. Happy listening!

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