Since vocalist Gretchen Parlato won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition in 2004, buzz about her has been steadily building. Her warm voice has drawn praise as "striking the balance between precision and flexibility." On Saturday night, jazz fans poured into the Nightclub room at the Monterey Jazz Festival to find out what all the buzz was about.
Parlato's voice is warm, but also distant, and would not be out of place on either a straight jazz or a Thievery Corporation album. Her backing band gives the music a lush, loungey feel. Parlato gives them the room and the freedom to each have their own turn in the spotlight; Taylor Eigsti especially drew applause and cheers from the audience with his free-form, delicate and airy piano solos on numbers like the band's cover of Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly."
Gretchen Parlato has been compared to Astrud Gilberto, but her voice is both deeper and warmer, while maintaining Gilberto's trademark dissafected distance. The Gretchen Parlato Band has not yet covered "The Girl from Ipanema," but after last night's performance, it's clear that if they did it would be remarkable.
For more information on the Monterey Jazz Festival, see our Monterey Jazz Festival page. For coverage of the 2010 Monterey Jazz Festival, see all our Monterey Jazz Festival posts. For more photos from this and other performances at the Monterey Jazz Festival, see our 2010 Monterey Jazz Festival set on Flickr.