reviews: in a dream
#1: Best Vocal Jazz Album of the Year!
2009 Jazz Critics' Poll
—The Village Voice, NY
#4: The Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2009
Michael J. West, Washington City Paper
In a Dream: "a breakthrough project by a gifted, young singer..."
"with emotional depth, subtlety, and the kind of precise technical craft where even the breathing sounds matter.”
In a Dream #4 Top 10 Killer Covers
Jazz Times, December 2009
5 Top CD Picks
A Blog Supreme / NPR JAZZ, Patrick Jarenwattananon
"...her voice coos, breathy and wistful and pitch-perfect... she knows how to sculpt an arrangement.
For us jazz insider types, it's looking like her time has finally come; the jazz neophyte may wonder why it hasn't arrived earlier."
#6: Steve Greenlee's top jazz albums for 2009
The Boston Globe critics top 10 list, Steve Greenlee
Gretchen Parlato - In a Dream: "Whispering and breathing where other singers belt... Parlato nearly creates her own subgenre of jazz vocals."
#8: Critics Picks: Top 50 New Albums
#9: NPR's Best Music of 2009
The Year of Living Improvisationally, Josh Jackson
"Intimacy and shared sense of purpose yields stellar results on In a Dream, especially the duets with guitarist Lionel Loueke. Parlato has a commanding vocal control and rhythmic dexterity that's dynamic, even when she's breathy and gossamer."
#10 NPR's Best Music of 2009
The Year In Jazz, From WDUQ, Shaunna Morrison Machosky
"We can look forward to a bright future for this up-and-coming singer. It's refreshing to hear a contemporary voice that doesn't just take on the same old standards."
Gretchen Parlato - In a Dream
Dan Ouellette, Billboard Magazine
With her second release, "In a Dream," Parlato's time has arrived.
So far, the set is the most alluring jazz vocal album of 2009.
With an impressive band that includes longtime cohort Lionel Loueke on guitar and wordless vocal, Parlato sings with quiet, relentless and oftentimes unpredictable rhythmic grace. She's playfully rapturous on Stevie Wonder's "I Can't Help It," a samba-esque duet with Loueke; joyfully spirited during an a cappella take on the Brazilian tune "Doralice"; and dreamily sensuous whispering over a clipping drum beat on "Within Me."
Breath Analyzer: Gretchen's Parlato's In a Dream
By Michael J. West, Washington City Paper
"—leagues ahead of the year’s other vocal jazz recordings.
"her near-whispers—a sort of seduction through vulnerability, but a more careful listen reveals her extraordinary confidence. Audible gasps are devices for suspense and rhythm and reveal Parlato’s mastery of rhythm, emotional depth, subtlety, and the kind of precise technical craft where even the breathing sounds matter.
Loueke’s powerful chemistry with Parlato may indeed be the jazz world’s newest great partnership in the Billie Holiday–Lester Young tradition."
Vocalist Gretchen Parlato is part Bobby McFerrin, part Theo Bleckmann, and David Binney
Track review of "Azure" by Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
"All men, yes. Parlato's voice is light as an apparition, ethereal and implied...
In A Dream is the recording Chet Baker would have made, had he been a woman."
Gretchen Parlato - In A Dream
By Don Heckman, IROM
"'In a Dream' belongs in the 4-5 Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album..."
"There’s an enigmatic quality to Gretchen Parlato’s singing, a mysterious brew of sound and breath, of simmering inner rhythms and phrasing that curls seductively around the words. The first track, Stevie Wonder’s “I Can’t Help It,” immediately announces that the album is going be an extraordinary musical experience.
Parlato has been blessed with extraordinary talents — an unerring sense of pitch, utterly relaxed rhythmic clarity, an open ear for harmony. Other singers have similar abilities. But what makes Parlato so unique is the imaginative way in which she uses those skills to rove deeply within the instrumental sounds, while still retaining her presence as the vocal center of the music."
Gretchen Parlato - In a Dream
Jazz Times Magazine
She has a degree in ethnomusicology from UCLA, was the first vocalist allowed entrée into the esteemed Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, won the Monk Competition in 2004 and has studied privately with Tierney Sutton. In other words, transplanted Californian Gretchen Parlato (now based in New York) is well prepared to take the jazz world by storm. But rather than do so with thunder and lightning, she has opted for whispered mistiness.
Her voice is a rare instrument, endowed with a seductively warm, ethereal quality yet sturdy as sequoia. Her jazz instincts are keenly intuitive, her phrasing immaculate. Following in the delicate footsteps of her 2005 eponymous debut, Parlato's In a Dream seems wholly crafted of sweet reveries. She has found an ideal mate for this spirited journey in guitarist and supporting vocalist Lionel Loueke, who considers Parlato his musical "twin sister." Whether meandering through a gauzy reading of Stevie Wonder's "I Can't Help It," savoring the sweet shimmer of Dorival Caymmi's "Doralice," reshaping the smooth R&B funk of SWV's chart-topping "Weak" into four minutes of melting submission, or painting vibrant tone poems atop Wayne Shorter's "E.S.P.," Parlato remains utterly, unfailingly mesmerizing.
Jazz singer Parlato mesmerizes with dream-like voice
This Jazzwoman speaks softly, but she carries a big repertoire
By Siddhartha Mitter, Boston Globe
"How refreshing. One of the biggest new voices in song is not, in fact, a big voice at all."
"It’s the voice of Gretchen Parlato, who has taken an antiheroine’s route to prominence as a jazz singer, breaking with the conventional character traits. Rather than belt or blare, Parlato’s sound is light and contained, nearly conversational. In lieu of frills and pyrotechnics, she uses nuance and a great harmonic subtlety.."