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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GRETCHEN PARLATO's EMOTIONAL, SWEET, SENSUAL VOCALS: "LIVE IN NYC", 19 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Live in NYC (Audio CD)
Five IRRESISTIBLE Stars! Passionate, intense, swinging, and original jazz singing. Award-winning jazz vocalist, arranger & composer Gretchen Parlato releases a live audio and video presentation of her unique vocal artistry on "Live in NYC", plucking 'hits' from her highly-acclaimed The Lost and Found and In A Dream recordings. Recorded live at Rockwood Music Hall, New York City, in 2012, she is supported by her longstanding associates: Grammy-nominated Taylor Eigsti doubling on piano and synthesizer, and the duos of either Burniss Earl Travis on electric bass & Kendrick Scott on drums or Alan Hamption on upright bass & Mark Guiliana on drums. With her sweet soprano voice, and occasionally her hands for additional rhythmic support, she sows the aural wind with her gentle voice, ramping up the pressure until she reaps a powerful whirlwind of beauty and excitement with each song. Sometimes her unabashedly-sensual voice is barely levitating above a tension-filled whisper, supported by a group that can create accent-filled musical soundscapes to soar over or solo masterfully on their own. Her unique vocal art is a testament to the fact that singing gently can often trump those singers who 'belt out' the words and Ms Parlato is already influencing other singers in her decade-long career wake. As she sings, hums, and 'scats', she creates an atmosphere of fleeting, beautiful sonic images that float past the listener, sometimes exploding as she 'turns the table' on us and her voice becomes a burnished instrument that builds the crescendo of a song to a compelling climax. Meanwhile, pianist Eigsti and company create their own amped-up imaginative, dramatic improvisations, pushed on relentlessly by trio interaction.

The 'best of the best' begins with all members playing a rhythmic instrument supporting 3 minutes of a spinning modal version of Paulinho da Viola's "Alô, Alô" (Hello, Hello) effectively sung in Portuguese by Parlato, who also gives a great 'cuica' vocal impression. Her well-known arrangement of Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly" follows the Parlato modal formula of gradually and gently building tension while scatting and singing over shifting rhythms, leading to a propulsive Eigsti piano solo, and an extended Parlato circular 'coda' that is marvelous. Parlato's sensual "Within Me" is supported by the trio at its best with all members contributing resourcefully during Eigsti's solo. And, best of all, she recasts Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years" into a personal emotional experience and "Weak" is a masterful performance, alternating between vocals and potent trio improvisations. The accompanying excellent video disc has Parlato & Co doing 30 minutes of "Weak", "Butterfly", "Alô, Alô", and the shimmering "Better Than", featuring one or the other support group. The highly-talented Gretchen Parlato has matured into one of the best jazz singers on the scene today, evidenced by her placements at or near the top of recent international critics and readers polls and by her recordings sales, and as shown clearly on thiese outstanding recordings. My Highest Recommendation. Five EMOTIONAL Stars! (9 audio-only tracks on 1 disc and a 30 minute DVD disc.)
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