London Jazz Festival: Gretchen Parlato

Sam Braysher reviews Gretchen Parlato, at Kings Place, 18 November 2011

Gretchen ParlatoGretchen Parlato has released an album, The Lost And Found, since her Ronnie Scott's performance as part of last year's London Jazz Festival, and this evening's gig at Kings Place featured songs from that disc as well as more familiar numbers from the earlier In A Dream.

Her rhythm section, as on the latest record, comprised Taylor Eigsti on piano and keyboard, Alan Hampton on double bass and Kendrick Scott on drums and, as always seems to be the case with Gretchen's live shows, the musicians on stage really sounded like a band. The quartet share an obvious affection for one another and manage to keep on bringing fresh approaches to songs like Within Me and Weak (one of In A Dream's highlights, presented as an encore here), which they must have played thousands of times on tour. It's always fascinating to hear Eigsti, Hampton and Scott playing so enthusiastically and freely in a context that is, generally speaking, quite different to the music they play with other contemporary jazz groups (the drummer's Oracle, for example).

While Gretchen was her usual self, all delicate vocals, strong concept and endearing onstage chat, Alan Hampton showed off another side to his talent that is relatively new to her set. The bass player moonlights as a singer-songwriter (and has released an album, The Moving Sidewalk) and was heard here on backing vocals on a number of songs and as an equal voice and guitarist on Still, his duet composition from The Lost And Found. Reimaginings of Wayne Shorter's Juju and Herbie Hancock's Butterfly were just two of many other highlights in a superb set.

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