Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke: Lean In

Parlato focuses on song delivery over improvisation as Loueke drives rhythmically in duet or with Burniss Travis (b) and Mark Guiliana (d)


There is an undoubted charm about the duo of singer Gretchen Parlato and guitarist Lionel Loueke, whose friendship and association goes back 20 years. Both musicians have received glowing acclamation in recent years and whilst dyed-in-the-wool jazzers might not necessarily get overly excited about the duo, those with more receptive ears might respond positively to this duo’s music.

There is a West African slant to many of the tunes, the majority of them being Parlato or Loueke originals; the exceptions are the bossa nova Astronauta and the surprisingly inclusion Walking After You by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters rock band.

Parlato is ostensibly a jazz singer who has performed with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard, although on this release, for the most-part her jazz chops are generally kept in check, as she concentrates on delivering the lyrics or harmonising with the guitarist and other vocalists.

Loueke, originally from Benin, is an agile picker, who seems to have used a whole range of different guitars across the three days of recording, where there is an emphasis on rhythmic drive, even on the five tracks where they are left together.

(1) Akwe; (2) I Miss You; (3) If I Knew; (1) Okagbe Interlude; Astronauta; (4) Mi Wa Se Interlude; (2) Muse; (1) Nonvignon; (2) Lean In; (1) Painful Joy; (5) Du We Interlude; Walking After You (44.43)
(1) Gretchen Parlato (v, pc); Lionel Loueke (g, v, pc). Los Angeles, 2-4 March 2022. (2) as (1) but add Mark Guiliana (d, pc). (3) as (2) but add Burniss Travis (elb); Marley Guiliana (v); Lisa Loueke (v). (4) as (3) but omit Lisa Loueke. (5) as (3) but omit Lisa Loueke and Marley Guiliana. (6) as (2) but add Marley Guiliana.
Edition Records EDN 1216