Gretchen Parlato's 'Flor' - Jazz FM's Album of the Week

Gretchen Parlato has returned, not only to the recording industry but to herself, with her new Brazilian-inspired project, Flor. Portuguese for “flower”, Flor is the artistic embodiment of the GRAMMY-nominated singer’s deep dive into motherhood over the last six years, a metamorphic interval of space that allowed Parlato to discover the fullness of her essence through a new lens. In this season of epiphany, Parlato reaps her most personal harvest yet, which she refers to as, “a blossoming, an opening, an offering, a return.” 

A gorgeous synthesis of original material, American popular music, European classical music, and Brazilian standards, Flor exemplifies the many ways in which motherhood has reconnected Parlato to her own inner child, revisiting the enchantment of falling in love with music for the first time, particularly the various Brazilian genres she became enamoured with as a young teenager. 

Brazilian music is a natural point of return for Parlato, who in many ways has been hinting at this affinity for quite some time. Her previous recordings include repertoire from some of Brazil’s most influential artists, such as Djavan and Bossa Nova architects Antônio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto; Gilberto’s influence in particular on Flor cannot be understated. “Discovering João Gilberto at 13 years old was monumental for me. Hearing him validated my more intimate and minimal approach to singing. He sounded so seemingly simple and tangible, yet there was so much detail, precision, and purpose to his vocal and guitar phrasing. Masterful, he was king!” More subtle yet no less influential is the infusion of West African cultures into the sounds of Brazil, illustrated in her previous collaborations with Beninese guitarist-vocalist Lionel Loueke.

Author: Alastair Steel