Gretchen Parlato, Lionel Loueke, Lean In, Edition ****

Highly influential and innovative US singer Gretchen Parlato is here with long time collaborator the Herbie Hancock guitarist and singer US based Benin jazz great Lionel Loueke. Very much a close knit affair, Gretchen's husband drummer Mark …

Published: 15 May 2023. Updated: 9 months.

Highly influential and innovative US singer Gretchen Parlato is here with long time collaborator the Herbie Hancock guitarist and singer US based Benin jazz great Lionel Loueke.

Very much a close knit affair, Gretchen's husband drummer Mark Guiliana of Mehliana fame, Guiliana and Loueke family members and close friend bassist Burniss Travis (known for his work with Common and James Francies) figure among the personnel on Lean In which was recorded in Los Angeles over three days of March last year. It is full of Brazilian music, West African sounds and more and represents the state of the art in terms of jazz vocals and also joins the dots passing the baton from singer to instrumentalism and back again in a parity of esteem and represents another peak in both Parlato and Loueke's remarkable careers.

Songs here include Loueke tune 'Akwê' and a very fine version of Lynn Malsby's 1980s song 'I Miss You'. Parlato's sound is metrically astounding and highly expert in harnessing the power of difficult syncopated runs that still retain their communicative rather than impressive-for-the-sake-of-it appeal to gain traction and a sense of rewarding release.

Among the tracks are the Carlos Pingarilho, Marcos Vasconcellos song 'Astronauta' also known as 'Samba da Pergunta' that goes back to the 1960s covered on the 1970 album João Gilberto en México.

Also here are the Loueke piece 'Painful Joy' and a Loueke arrangement of the Dave Grohl song 'Walking After You' heard on the Foo Fighters' The Colour and the Shape (1997) a song that the Foo Fighters later re-recorded for the soundtrack of The X-Files. 'Lean In' feat. Mark Guiliana and 'I Miss You' are streaming. Lean In is released on Friday.

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Lionel Loueke and Gretchen Parlato. Photo: Lauren Desberg

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Naya Baaz, Charm, Whirlwind ***1/2

Thumbs up most here for 'Chick's Magnet,' 'Reaching' and 'Peony' as these transcend the generic aspects of Indo-jazz fusion more. Sitar (Josh Feinberg), guitar (Rez Abbasi) - the two leaders of the group - plus cello (Jennifer Vincent) and drums …

Published: 15 May 2023. Updated: 9 months.

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Thumbs up most here for 'Chick's Magnet,' 'Reaching' and 'Peony' as these transcend the generic aspects of Indo-jazz fusion more. Sitar (Josh Feinberg), guitar (Rez Abbasi) - the two leaders of the group - plus cello (Jennifer Vincent) and drums (Satoshi Takeishi) on this 2021 studio coming together match and fuse across continents and the centuries.

The great thing about the use of a sitar in a jazz context - and it worked well on Herbie Hancock track 'The Song Goes On' from The Imagine Project the best most recent example to hand - when you get elasticity and non-western scales mixing with western instruments and modalities from the Indian sub-continent. There is a also a sense when guitar and sitar get really stuck in of a very incisive sense of attack that can achieve a vital propulsion and engagement with the sound as flow is generated and volume maxes up. But you also get extended play and room for extemporisation shaped around core motifs and of course the coming together of traditions that span many disciplines and share much more in common than differentiates them. The driving jazz-rock side of the album and churn of scalar cycles is a good factor on 'Emancipation' where there is some of Abbasi's best soloing. If you are into the Indo side of John McLaughlin or Joe Harriott's work with John Mayer Charm certainly chimes well. L-r: Josh Feinberg, Rez Abbasi, photo: via Whirlwind

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