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Jazz Review

Sophistication and Brazilian Rhythms of Gretchen Parlato

August 29, 2000|DON HECKMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

If you liked Astrud Gilberto, you'll love Gretchen Parlato. Although she was born more than a decade after Gilberto recorded her classic bossa nova albums with Stan Getz, Parlato has a similarly pure, sweet voice and an intuitive knack for Brazilian rhythms.

Appearing at Spazio in Sherman Oaks on Sunday night, Parlato revealed a level of musical sophistication not always present in Gilberto's singing. Delivering her lyrical passages with crisp articulation, she also improvised in horn-like fashion, investing her lines with an awareness of the shifting flow of harmonies.

The choice of material for a show she labeled "Musica Brasileira" was excellent, ranging from Jobim's classic "Chega De Saudade" to such older pieces as Bide and Marcal's "A Premeira Vez" and Geraldo Pereira's "Falsa Bahiana." In each case, Parlato's musicality was a key element in interpretations that often illuminated the heart of the songs.

Parlato was aided enormously by the presence of a superb accompanying ensemble: Larry Koonse, guitar, Tamir Hendelman, piano, Tony Dumas, bass, Enzo Todesco, drums. Given ample room to solo, they used the space enthusiastically, with Hendelman's thoughtful solo on "Chega De Saudade" a highlight of the set.

Unfortunately, Spazio's less-than-adequate sound system made it difficult for listeners not seated directly in front of the band to hear much of the music's subtleties. And the absence of any kind of spotlighting for the bandstand was a further problem.

Spazio is now a venue in transition, however, and new management reportedly will transform the room into a first-rate performing space with effective audio and lighting. One would hope so, since Spazio, with its spacious, attractive indoor and outdoor space, has all the basic requirements to become a fine setting for jazz.

*

* Gretchen Parlato also performs at Sangria, 68 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza, Hermosa Beach on Wednesday, and on Sept. 13, 20 and 27. 5-9 p.m. No cover. (310) 376-4412.

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