"The first thing you notice about Gretchen Parlato is that she's a singer with a deep, almost magical connection to the music," says jazz legend Herbie Hancock. "She takes a lot of chances with her understated style, and it works. Every note is expressive, powerful, and pretty. And most important, her heart is in the right place." Gretchen's petite bearing and vocal enchantments evoked another famed spell-casting pixie for one reviewer, who called Gretchen's 2003 performance with Herbie in Paris "a fairy-tale like show. . . in the universe of Björk."
With her emotive, subtle approach, Gretchen quickly created a buzz around New York. She moved from Los Angeles in September 2003, after completing the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, where she was the first vocalist ever to be accepted by Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, and Herbie Hancock. One year later, she won first prize in the 2004 Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocals Competition. In August 2005 she performed as part of "A Celebration of Jobim" at the Hollywood Bowl, with Oscar Castro-Neves, Gal Costa, Ivan Lins, and Dianne Reeves.
Gretchen has provided vocals for Terence Blanchard's 2005 Blue Note album, "Flow", the soundtrack to the 2004 film "Seeing Other People" starring Jay Mohr and Walt Disney’s "A World of Happiness", which also featured such artists as Lou Rawls, Gary Oldman, Deborah Harry, and Isaac Hayes. She has performed with greats such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Oscar Castro-Neves, and has studied with Terence Blanchard, Dave Holland, and Tierney Sutton. Her sound mixes Jazz, Brazilian, and African elements, creating a unique style all her own.
"I think in an inconspicuous way, Gretchen Parlato knows how to play the same instrument that Frank Sinatra played." comments jazz legend Wayne Shorter. "There’s no one out there like Gretchen."