Gretchen Parlato

In a Dream

First, don’t trust reviews, including this one. A review of Gretchen Parlato’s new CD in The Week magazine might have made you think she had reinvented jazz, widening its narrow fan base to include heretofore unknown hordes of new devotees. That ain’t gonna happen. This is a quiet set of songs, most of them sung with the kind of breathiness associated with an after-hours club in Manhattan back when smoke-enshrouded jazz clubs were a tad more common than they are today. It’s a ’lude mood pretty much throughout, with quietly tinkling piano, muted guitar and soft vocalizing consistent with the album’s title. Yes, it’s dreamlike and spacey, a feeling augmented by the fragmentary intros to a couple of songs, snatches of baby talk recorded when Parlato was a baby. If you think that’s a self-indulgent and pointless gimmick, you might be right. There are pieces here by Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder, most of them sharing the same whispery delivery. If you’re looking for music to nurture an interlude of self-pity or bleakly romantic reverie, In a Dream can help with that, especially if Billie Holiday no longer works to sustain your blue moods.