Inner-circle jazz fans got hip to Gretchen Parlato back in 2004, when the prestigious Thelonious Monk competition was among singers and the L.A.-based newcomer took the prize. More than 50 recording sessions and three discs as a leader later, the circle keeps expanding, including enough jazz critics to make The Lost and Found No. 1 for vocals on Rhapsody's 2011 poll. Her approach trades more heavily on intimacy than pyrotechnics — no belter on her discs — and she's one of the rare American singers who shows what she's learned from bossa nova singers whether or not she's actually performing Jobim and co. But to be clear, when your collaborators include Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Robert Glasper and Terri Lyne Carrington (she's on Carrington's Sunday night Grammy-winner, The Mosaic Project), it's ultimately about the chops.
What five important things does Parlato do to get through her days, on and off the road? We asked her.
Being around loved ones: We all need a daily dose of love. Connecting to family, friends, my two cats, is a necessity for a balanced and grounded life.
Sing and write: I think I am constantly singing a song out loud or in my head. I have come up with most of my song ideas by just singing into a recorder.
Eat kale: I love lacinto kale the best. A recipe that never seems to get old: chopped raw kale with pine nuts, dried cranberries, olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, salt and pepper. Sometimes I add quinoa, chick peas or fish.
Drink tea: I love tea. I drink it all day, every day. I buy loose tea, and create various blends, such as Earl Grey with lavender and rose petals, or peppermint, lemon verbena and ginger root.
Practice yoga. I need to get on that mat, breathe and flow. Anything from 10 minutes to two hours works.
Gretchen Parlato is billed with the Vijay Iyer Trio in the DSO's Paradise Jazz Series. At 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-576-5111; $55.50-$21.50.