Written by Becca Pulliam from WBGO-FM
At the Newport Jazz Festival, we’re visiting the Quad and Harbor Stages, where the first rows of audience sit snug up to the performer. With her understated style, love of the lyric and freedom, Gretchen Parlato makes that closeness work. Everyone leans in and listens.
She begins with “Doralice,” the Brazilian song that João Gilberto sings on the 1963 album Getz/Gilberto. To this Portuguese musing about whether love is an illusion — whether the singer should just be alone with her music — Parlato adds vocal and body percussion to tambourine by drummer Kendrick Scott.
When Gerald Clayton joins the set, he’s at the electric piano first, for two pieces from Parlato’s In a Dream. Bassist Alan Hampton provides a long, luxurious set-up to “Juju” by Wayne Shorter, with a lyric by Parlato. She closes with Thelonious Monk‘s “Ugly Beauty,” with the “Still We Dream” lyric by Mike Ferro, introduced some time ago by Carmen McRae. With a laugh, Parlato says, “These lyrics are so beautifully, poignantly, profoundly dark that I just love them.”
Personnel: Gretchen Parlato, vocals; Gerald Clayton, keyboards; Alan Hampton, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums.
Professor Conrad Herwig’s teaches at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. He’s a long-time member of the Mingus Big Band and Orchestra, and this summer Conrad is in Europe with Eddie Palmieri. Conrad Herwig’s discography as a leader lists 20 albums. Of those, since the mid-1990s, six are the trombonist’s original Latin arrangements of music by John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Shorter. This day at Newport is launch day for The Latin Side of Herbie Hancock. There is pure pleasure in the groove — the solos in “Oliliqui Valley” and “Watermelon Man” are ideal for a summer afternoon. And please do not miss the web extra: “Butterfly.”
Personnel: Conrad Herwig, trombone; Mike Rodriguez, trumpet; Craig Handy, saxophone and clarinets; Bill O’Connell, piano; Ruben Rodriguez, bass; Pedro Martinez, percussion; Robby Ameen, drums.
Surround Sound mixes by Antonio Oliart, WGBH, and Duke Markos for JazzSet. Thanks to National Pastimes Productions and executive director Jon Poses.