Kat Parra | Songbook of the Américas

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Jazz: Latin Jazz Latin: Afro-Cuban Moods: Type: Vocal
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Songbook of the Américas

by Kat Parra

A richly textured musical journey that reflects Parra’s adventurous spirit. Drawing on a wide range of cultural influences creating music that is both familiar yet strikingly original.
Genre: Jazz: Latin Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. (Four)ever More
5:03 $0.99
2. Please Do Something
4:44 $0.99
3. Wouldn't It Be Sweet? (Au Privave)
4:17 $0.99
4. Dare to Dream
4:41 $0.99
5. María Landó
5:53 $0.99
6. Veinte Años
5:21 $0.99
7. Como La Cigarra
3:42 $0.99
8. Bésame Mucho
6:40 $0.99
9. Till There Was You
5:19 $0.99
10. Dame La Mano
3:41 $0.99
11. Mambo Italiano
3:36 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Kat Parra is a jazz vocalist, composer, lyricist and arranger with an international perspective. Her style is strongly influenced by world music, especially from Latin America, Spain and the Middle East. Her latest project, SONGBOOK OF THE AMÉRICAS, is her fifth CD as a leader. The CD pays tribute to women composers from both North, Central and South America as well as original music and lyrics penned by Parra.
Accompanying Parra are some of the finest musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area, including her long-time collaborators, Grammy-nominated trombonist Wayne Wallace and pianist Murray Low, both stalwarts of the Latin jazz scene. She is also joined by special guests that include María Márquez, a popular singer from Venezuela, Nate Pruitt, a SF Bay Area living legend, and Tuck & Patti, who join Parra on her original tune “Dare to Dream.” Parra studied voice with Patti at San José State University and considers the singer to be her musical and spiritual mentor.
Although Parra began studying classical piano at the age of 5, it was her time spent in Chile as a teenager that sparked her passion for Latin music and opened her ears to the rhythms and textures of music of other cultures from around the world. Besides singing in English, Parra also performs in Spanish (which she speaks fluently), Portuguese, French, and Ladino (a romance language spoken by Sephardic Jews).
Parra’s voice is fluid and flexible as she imbues each of these songs with her own personality and style. Take, for example, Meredith Willson’s “Till There Was You.” Arranged by Low, the tune opens with a rumba section and a Canto de Ochún, which she sings with María Márquez. Parra says, “I chose to open with this chant to invoke Ochún – goddess of beauty and love – to help open our hearts to unconditional love.” Nate Pruitt adds his soulful voice to the tune in a lovely duet with Parra. Their voices intertwine and play off each other, creating a sweet and joyful version of the song that sets it apart.
Or listen to her version of Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson’s “Four.” She truly makes the song her own. Wallace created a swinging mambo arrangement that pairs beautifully with Parra’s original lyrics and vocalese section inspired by Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet. Parra then turns up the heat with a traditional call and response section sung in Spanish.
On Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave,” which Parra renamed “Wouldn’t It be Sweet?” she wrote original lyrics and a vocalese section over Parker’s solo. The only tune on this CD that isn’t in the Latin vein, Parra clearly shows her ability to swing and have fun with more traditional material.
Parra also re-works Betty Carter’s “Please Do Something,” adding a cha-cha groove and soli that highlight the song’s fun and sexy lyrics. “Mambo Italiano,” the closing tune, has a lively mambo groove that pays tribute to Israel "Cachao" Lopez.
Five of the songs on this CD originate from Latin America, including “Bésame Mucho,” “Como La Cigarra,” “María Landó,” “Veinte Años and “Dame La Mano.”
“Bésame Mucho” is probably one of the most performed and recorded songs in the world. The arrangement by Parra and Low takes the song to new and unexpected places with the addition of the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute, played beautifully by Koga.
“Veinte Años” was written by Maria Teresa Vera, a Cuban singer, guitarist, and composer. Vera was a trovador, a kind of troubadour that toured around Cuba, singing and playing original compositions on guitar. The trova movement, which began in the 19th century, has had a great influence on Cuban music, and this song is one of the most popular examples from that era. Low gives this piece a more ethno-jazz feel rather than the traditional bolero, using odd meters to create tension and excitement.
“María Landó” was written by Chabuca Granda, a Peruvian singer and composer who was well known for writing and interpreting Criollo waltzes with Afro-Peruvian rhythms. Parra and Low took a very different approach to this song by using piano instead of the traditional guitar and adding cymbals along with the cajón.
“Como La Cigarra” was written by María Elena Walsh, an Argentine poet, novelist, musician, playwright, and composer. Walsh was a political activist, and the song became a symbol of the resistance to the military junta that came to power in the 1970s. Parra’s and Márquez’s voice blend to create just the right feel for this piece. According to Parra, “Having María Márquez join me on this song gave the music even more depth and beauty.”
Parra has always loved the literature of Chile as well as the music, especially the poetry of Gabriela Mistral, a diplomat, feminist, and Nobel Prize winner. Parra was inspired to compose music to Mistral’s “Dame La Mano,” a beautiful love song originally written as a poem for children.
SONGBOOK OF THE AMÉRCIAS is a richly textured musical journey that reflects Parra’s adventurous spirit. Drawing on a wide range of cultural influences, she creates music that is both familiar yet strikingly original.

About Kat Parra
Kat Parra was raised in a musical family. Her father was a classical singer and pianist, and her great uncle, Aube Tzerko, was a renowned piano teacher. She went on to study classical flute at UCLA where she first became enamored of jazz. However, as a single mother raising two children, Parra had to put her musical career on hold to work as a graphic designer to support her family.
After raising two sons, Parra decided it was time to finally pursue her life-long dream of being a full-time musician. She quit her corporate graphic design job in 2006 and has never looked back. Since then she has performed in Amsterdam, Mexico, Brazil, and throughout the United States. She has established herself as an ambassador of world and Latin jazz, bringing a fresh and adventurous perspective to this music.
Parra released Birds in Flight, her first album, in 2006. Three other CDs followed, including Azucar De Amor in 2008, Dos Amantes (subtitled The Sephardic Music Experience) in 2010, and Las Aventuras De Pasión! in 2012.
In 2008 and 2010, Parra was awarded “Best Latin Jazz Vocalist” by the online blog Latin Jazz Corner. She also received a 2008 nomination for “Latin Jazz Album of the Year” from the Jazz Journalists Association.



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