cover story Music Connection Magazine, by Andrea Beenham
ON THE HEELS OF THEIR GRAMMY® AWARD nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album, Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke continue to make their mark on the jazz scene, while remaining as humble and appreciative of their journey as ever. Born and raised 7,500 miles apart (California and Benin), their creative synergy is pure magic, the result of 23 years of friendship and musical collaboration.

LL: Connected to the title, we lean on each other. There’s a trust, a high listening, and no judgment—we go with the flow. The mistake is a big part of what we do, too. Nothing is perfect. We don’t want to play perfectly—it’s not music. We challenge each other. It’s not that we sat in a comfort zone for 20 years. I don’t know where she’s going to go and I trust her. I go on that journey completely blind. That’s the beauty of what we do. We don’t question it, we just go for it and, because we move listening and trusting each other, we find our way back home. There’s no preconception. You don’t get it wrong in progress, you get wrong because you don’t know where you are. There’s no judgment. 

GP: It’s all about what’s genuine and honest to who you are. You want your art to be an extension of who you are as a person, encompassing everything about you. The sound on your instrument should just be effortless—the same way we speak is the way you should sing or play. Don’t try so hard to imitate. Ella did it. Let’s just listen to Ella if we want Ella. What can you do? Everyone has a story, something to share, so it should be a relief to realize what’s already inside. Let that out, and not try to grab things. Everything already exists, it’s just the unveiling—and that can take many years. The beauty is the journey, not the final destination. I get to be an artist, it’s a really beautiful thing. This is the way to be happy in life and have less attachments and suffering.   »read full article