Gretchen Parlato – In A Dream

Gretchen Parlato
In A Dream
ObliqSound – 2009
Ray Redmond

“In a Dream” finds Parlato embarking on a beguiling journey deep into the heart of both her own compositions and classic material by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and others – all of which she instantly makes her own.


Backed by scat vocals and bass licks Parlato transforms Michael Jackson’s pop hit I Can’t Help It into a smooth and heartfelt jazzy lullaby. On Butterfly, a Herbie Hancock cover, she again takes ownership of the tune and applies her stylings and lilting vocals to take it to another level of melodiousness. Other tracks to note are the floating In A Dream, and the rhythmic On The Other Side, which is strangely reminiscent of some of Basia’s earlier stuff. 


A lot of the credit goes to the band for being good enough to accompany her fragile vocals without stepping on them. Lionel Loueke on guitar, Aaron Parks on piano and Fender Rhodes, Derrick Hodge on acoustic and electric bass, and drummer Kendrick Scott.


Both Hancock and Shorter are already fans. Hancock has said that Parlato has a “deep, almost magical connection to the music,” and Shorter has said “in an inconspicuous way, Gretchen plays the same instrument as Frank Sinatra.”


Parlato graduated from UCLA with a BA in Ethnomusicology/Jazz Studies, then went on to attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, as the Institute’s very first vocalist. Parlato won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition and, in 2005, self-released her debut.