by: Dawn Pemberton
This week’s Sunday Slow(ish) Jam does push the bpm a little to qualify as a true SSJ, but it's too good not to share. It’s an intelligent, hip arrangement of the classic r&b tune, “Weak” by SWV as performed by Gretchen Parlato, Al Hampton, Aaron Parks and Mark Guiliana. I really like Gretchen Parlato’s singing. She has great control, rhythmic integrity, never over sings and is always emotionally connected to the text and the moment. This version taken from a live set at the Lotos Jazz Festival in 2013 is particularly top notch as it highlights the skillful musicianship of this ensemble, showcases great harmony, uses space beautifully, and freely explores the rhythmic and melodic edges while remaining rooted to the song’s soulful and groovy origins. This ensemble really takes their time and draws you in. I appreciate how anchored everyone is to the pulse and how the feel is like a buoy floating on top of the water. It’s really enjoyable to drift between feeling the pulse so clearly to being swept up in the rhythmic current. I also love Aaron Park’s harmonic interchanges with Gretchen as she sings, he dips as she sways, it gets juicier as things progress. However, the best part is that they save the chorus for the right moment. They don’t even hint at it until the very end and somehow you realize this is the part you’ve been waiting for. Enjoy!
Gretchen Parlato - Weak with Alan Hampton - bass, Aaron Parks - piano, Mark Guiliana - drums