What is it that Bette Midler used to sing – “You’ve Got to Have Friends”?
Gretchen Parlato’s got ’em. Does she ever.
Even in the current post-Diana Krall era of jazz singers, it’s 37-year-old Parlato who seems to have the lion’s share of acclaim from other musicians – especially some of the best of them. Wayne Shorter compares her to Frank Sinatra, and Herbie Hancock throws the “M” word around (i.e. “Magic”). In return, she’s hip enough – despite being a self-proclaimed former “valley girl” – to write lyrics for Shorter’s classic tune “JuJu.”
Her father was a former bass player for Frank Zappa and an L.A. studio pro for the likes of Al Jarreau, Barbra Streisand and Henry Mancini. Her grandfather used to play trumpet for Kay Kyser’s band.
Because she’s so much a pro, she lends her soft, breathy voice to discs by all manner of heavyweight jazz musicians. “Getting right to the heart and the core” of things, she says on her Web page, is what she says she wants – that and shedding everything else.
You’ll hear how she does it at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Hunt Real Estate Art of Jazz Series in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Auditorium. At 7 p.m., series producer Bruce Eaton will lead a preconcert talk on jazz in Los Angeles. – Jeff Simon