Culture Watch: Gretchen Parlato's 'The Lost and Found' CD
With a similar knack for deftly incorporating funk and breezy Latin textures into her songs, it's easy to draw a dotted line from this young vocalist to recent Grammy favorite Esperanza Spalding, who called on Parlato for a guest turn on the bassist's 2010 breakthrough "Chamber Music Society."
Which isn't to say Parlato is riding anyone's coattails. Her 2009 album "In a Dream" marked her as an artist to watch with a delicately expressive voice and sharp accompanists who included fellow rising stars Aaron Parks on piano and drummer Kendrick Scott. This time around Taylor Eigsti takes over for Parks on keyboards, and boundary-pushing pianist Robert Glasper helps with production for a record that also showcases Parlato as a songwriter. The twilit "Better Than" balances Eigsti's twinkling keys with Parlato's melancholy purr, and "Winter Wind" rises out of the vocalist's coiling melody into a driving, restless rhythm. A cover of Wayne Shorter's "Juju" also soars with Parlato rising alongside Dayna Stephens' saxophone, and a surprising take on Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years" finds new yearning in the '80s radio staple. Fans of eclectic jazz vocals should track down this find.
-- Chris Barton