Gretchen Parlato’s show at the Jazz Standard last Sunday was a family affair. The final night of her residency fell on Mothers Day, and accordingly, her mother, as well as pianist Taylor Eigsti’s mother, were in attendance. In an odd musical interlude, Parlato got out a folder which, at first, seemed to be filled with sheet music, but that was actually a compendium of the band members’ mothers’ faces photocopied and glued to popsicle sticks. Parlato proceeded to lead the audience in “Happy Mothers Day,” sung to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
Parlato’s playful side has been evident on the Internet as well lately (check out the videos of Helen McKenzie on YouTube), but on Sunday, no characters appeared other than the singer herself. Which, with the assortment of styles employed, both musical and vocal, was enough. The band did material from the new album The Lost and Found as well as selections from In a Dream, and finally, as an encore, “Flor de Lis,” a track which appeared on Parlato’s first release. The music, though carried by Parlato’s delicate voice, was loud, robust; simply put, they rocked out.
The rockingest songs were the loudest ones. On Wayne Shorter’s “JuJu,” for which Parlato wrote lyrics, the band was joined by Dayna Stephens on tenor saxophone. At the song’s climax, the two musicians sustained the same high, loud note amid the commotion of the rhythm section. On the ever darker “Weak,” Kendrick Scott opened the song with a short drum solo that began strangely—he switched erratically between the rim of the snare and the other drums—but that he honed into the familiar beat of the recorded song.
The other band member was Alan Hampton, bassist, vocalist, and guitarist. He played guitar and sang along with Parlato on his composition “Still,” but the highlight of his performance, and of the entire evening was his long and gorgeous opening solo to “JuJu.” The introduction to the song, which Parlato appropriately labeled “ridiculous,” developed in a way that was methodical, yet adventurous, and frankly, mesmerizing.
The entire set was mesmerizing, which, though full-length, was unfairly short. The band did great treatments of the albums’ material, demonstrating the evolution of songs they’ve been touring with for months now. The constant development of the songs is what makes Parlato and her band so engaging from show to show; what keeps us fans listening, eager for more.
Gretchen Parlato’s new album The Lost and Found is out now.
Gretchen Parlato The Lost and Found
For more info on Gretchen check out her website here.
Words by Kyla Marshell