VOCALIST and AWARD-WINNING COMPOSER KAT PARRA RELEASES A STUNNING SOPHOMORE CD, AZUCAR DE AMOR, ON PATOIS RECORDS
* FEATURING RAY VEGA and JOVINO SANTOS NETO *
Billboard Review by Philip Van Vleck:
"Vocalist Kat Parra indulges her passion for Latin jazz on "Azucar de Amor," her second release for Patois Records. She opens the disc with a sweet bit of salsa/ mambo, "Sugar (Azucar de Amor)," that sets the tone for what proves to be a moveable feast of Latin styles. Parra knows how to light the fuse on a salsa number, and she shows us how it's done on the original tune "Quitate la Queta." In a completely different mood, Parra delivers a stirring interpretation of "Esta Montanya D'Enfrente," a mystic Sephardic ballad. Her vocal on this number is beautifully shaped; her grasp of this archaic Judeo-Spanish style is remarkable. Parra also shines on "Un Grito," a song she wrote with Wayne Wallace in the Afro-Peruvian lando style. It's yet another stylistic groove that she handles with an uncanny feel."
“Parra’s voice is chameleon-like, and it transcends style and language with remarkable strength and presence.” — Dan Bilawsky, Jazz Improv Magazine
“What sets Parra apart from so many Latin-jazz vocalists is her passion for mixing and blending musical styles. Parra has developed an unusual repertoire marked by rhythmic sophistication and unpredictable song choices. Most unexpectedly, she explores her Sephardic Jewish heritage, a refracted point of connection with Latin America.” — Andrew Gilbert, San Jose Mercury News
“This woman sings with conviction, devotion, and intense feeling. Her voice is full of sweetness, passion, intimacy, and joy.” — Lee Prosser, jazzreview.com
Vocalist and composer Kat Parra follows up on the success of her critically acclaimed debut CD with Azucar de Amor, another wonderfully diverse collection of music from a wide array of cultures and genres. Latin favorites, jazz standards, Sephardic songs of the Spanish Jews, and originals are all tied together by Parra’s heartfelt delivery and by uniquely fresh arrangements from award-winning trombonist/arranger Wayne Wallace and pianist Murray Low. The CD will be released March 4 on Wayne Wallace’s Patois Records label.
Sugar (Azucar De Amor), a wonderful re-interpretation by Wallace of this Stanley Turrentine favorite, energetically opens the disc with crackling percussion, heralding another ingeniously eclectic musical offering from Parra and her cohorts. The diversity of the material is highlighted by the sheer array of sounds on the disc. Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia is a case in point: the first section is a bewitching mid-tempo treatment beautifully colored by Katja Cooper’s Middle-Eastern percussion instruments, followed by the blazing trumpet of Ray Vega, announcing the beginning of a hard-swinging salsa section. On the haunting Sephardic ballad Esta Montanya D’Enfrente, masterfully arranged by Murray Low, Peter Barshay’s plaintive bass solo opens the stage for the other-wordly sound of Masaru Koga’s shakuhachi, a traditional flute from Japan. Violinist Anthony Blea and flutist John Calloway each add beautiful colors to this CD as well as impressive solo turns, while drummer Paul van Wageningen holds it down rhythmically on a number of tracks. A stunning constellation of percussion instruments creates a sparkling canvas on which Parra paints with her striking voice.
Parra’s versatility is beyond question on this disc. On the exuberant Quítate La Queta, an original composition co-written with Wallace, she exhorts us to listen at the beginning (¡Oye!) and sings in the earthiest part of her vocal range, while on Errol Garner’s Misty she travels to the ethereal regions of her voice, delivering a silvery sound that perfectly illustrates the poignancy of this well-loved standard. (Wallace takes a beautiful solo turn here as well.) Parra’s formidable song-writing talents are also on display in three originals co-written with Wallace: in addition to Quítate La Queta, the gorgeous Afro-Peruvian Un Grito is unforgettable while Feed My Desire, which features an electric solo by Jovino Santos Neto on piano, is utterly seductive.
Kat Parra has achieved critical acclaim and success since leaving her corporate hi-tech job last year to pursue a full-time musical career. Not only has she been signed to a two-CD contract with Wayne Wallace’s Patois Records, but she also has been invited to perform in Brazil, Chicago, and Seattle, as well as top-tier venues around the Bay Area such as the San Jose Jazz Festival, Sonoma Jazz Festival, SFJazz Summerfest, Pearls, and the Kuumbwa Jazz Center. Her 2006 debut CD Birds in Flight is being played on radio stations throughout the world. In Melbourne, Australia it was voted one of the TOP 10 VOCAL JAZZ/SALSA ALBUMS for 2007, while on Mark Ruffin and Neil Tesser’s syndicated Listen Hear radio show it was listed as “One of the top 6 CDs you should know about.” In addition, a track from this album, Dame La Llave, was rated as One of the Best Songs of 2006 on iTunes.
The CD also earned acclaim in print. In his JazzTimes magazine review, Christopher Loudon exclaimed: “Kat Parra’s Birds in Flight, an eyes-wide-open treatise on post-breakup resilience and recovery, earned top prize in the Latin-Jazz category at the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Now, wrapped in an appropriately buoyant salsa arrangement courtesy of trombonist Wayne Wallace, it is the centerpiece of the golden-voiced Californian’s inaugural disc… It all adds up to a most propitious debut.” Latin Beat magazine’s Jesse “Chuy” Varela calls Parra “a musical chameleon who transforms her voice with multi-colored global hues… well-worth searching out,” while Chuck Graham’s Tucson Citizen review calls Birds in Flight “an impressive debut album… a musical gem with many sparkling facets.”
Parra has leapt beyond the boundaries of the typical Latin jazz singer. With her thirst for the exploration of myriad world rhythms and tonalities, she has developed a style of music that encompasses sounds that transcend and bend the stereotypical definition of Latin jazz. She has incorporated not only Afro-Cuban music, but also Afro-Peruvian, Middle Eastern, South American folklore, and Nueva Trova. Most interestingly, along with her musical director Murray Low, Parra has also been developing new arrangements of Sephardic music, the music of the Spanish Jews, sung in the dying language of Ladino.
Kat sings fluently in English, Spanish and Portuguese. With this multi-lingual and multi-musical approach, she is able to captivate her audiences with exciting and vibrant world and Latin music.