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Jazz vocalist Gretchen Parlato sings without borders

January 19, 2012 |  5:25 pm

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A fixture on many year-end lists among jazz critics this year, L.A.-born singer Gretchen Parlato mixes up a variety of sounds on her 2011 album "The Lost and Found." Co-produced by acclaimed pianist Robert Glasper, the album finds Parlato putting her unique stamp on source material as varied as Wayne Shorter, Ambrose Akinmusire and Mary J. Blige, and features her debut as a songwriter in a genre-blind approach that upends expectations for what a jazz vocalist's album can sound like. But she's not going to get caught up into anyone's preconceived idea about musical borders.

"Whatever people want to call me is fine," she said. "I always used to say is I’m definitely not a straight-ahead jazz singer, because then there’s people who who would hear what I do and say, ‘Is it jazz? I don’t know.' . . . Whatever it is, it really comes down to creating music that makes people feel something."

In my profile from Friday's Calendar, Parlato talks more about her exposure to Brazilian music, her choice of covers and learning to trust her own voice as a songwriter. Parlato performs Saturday as part of the Jazz Bakery's Movable Feasts concert series.

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-- Chris Barton

Photo credit: David Bartolomi

I always used to say is I’m definitely not a straight-ahead jazz singer, because then there’s people who are much more of purist in jazz who would hear what I do and say, ‘Is it jazz? I don’t know.” So I think there’s always going to be a debate, and you can get involved or just sit back and whatever it is, it really comes down to creating music that makes people feel something
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