Miles Davis once famously said, “It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play.” He meant that there was another way of entering jazz than through rapid-fire chord changes and solos; that restraint could be just as illuminating, if not more so, than the blistering dexterity so common to his day.
Gretchen Parlato seems an undeniable descendant of this school of thought. Her voice, feather-soft, rarely rises above that unmistakable, signature whisper. She improvises, but bypasses intricate scat singing for solos with fewer notes and less-pronounced syllables. In a similar fashion to Davis, her music is more about what she doesn’t do than what she does.