The first vocalist to study at the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute and winner of the Thelonious Monk Vocal Jazz Competition in 2004, Gretchen Parlato has cut a different path than singers who stick to time-tested standards and familiar jazz works. Her third CD is a wide-ranging affair, featuring singer/songwriter pop ballads, post-bop, her own originals, and works by her supporting musicians adding her lyrics. Her core band consists of keyboardist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Derrick Hodge, and drummer Kendrick Scott, with tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens added on several tracks. Parlato's approach to Wayne Shorter's "Juju" has a mysterious air, with her hypnotic vocals buoyed by Stephens' effusive tenor. Parlato's interpretations of pieces by several rising stars from her generation are impressive, including the whispering treatment of Ambrose Akinmusire's "Henya," along with pieces by Eigsti and Stephens. She demonstrates her versatility in her breezy interpretation of the samba "Alô, Alô," mastering its Portuguese lyric and providing the sole accompaniment as percussionist. Parlato penned both the music and lyric to the driving post-bop vehicle "Winter Wind," while her "Better Than" is a dreamy pop ballad. It's clear that Gretchen Parlato doesn't want to be restricted by stylistic boundaries, so jazz fans with open ears will find a lot of treasures to discover within The Lost and Found.
- By Ken Dryden (AMG)