Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke – Lean In (ENG review)

Edition Records – Street date: May 19th 2023
World Music
Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke

Edition Records offers us an album showcasing their expertise in producing vocal and rhythmic albums. The wonderful voice of Gretchen Parlato, in duo with the excellent Lionel Loueke, is simply a pure moment of happiness. Reflecting on the great musical duos of our time and what makes them essential, it seems plausible that there is at least a short list of fundamental common factors necessary for success. For prominent artists like singer-arranger Gretchen Parlato and singer-guitarist Lionel Loueke, their formula is rooted in what might initially seem like contrasting components – an intrinsic grounding associated with freedom, spontaneity, and impulse. Developing a down-to-earth connection lays the foundation for the trust and confidence necessary for experimentation and ascent. From their palpable emotional synergy, Loueke affectionately coined the term “musical soulmates”.
And this is where Lionel Loueke’s genius lies, knowing how to incorporate his African identity into projects like this and elevate them. This album is truly captivating, disturbing us with its rhythms and arrangements, but in a good way. “He’s someone who finishes your musical phrases, so to speak,” explains Parlato. “We’re challenging each other at the same time,” adds Loueke. “I’m just going where she is and vice versa. So, there’s no comfort zone. We’re entering the unknown zone.”
But this album is also an invitation to travel through its delightful mix of cultures, sensitivity, and poetry, even a certain form of romanticism emanating from it. We would like to have such an album on hand more often, as no superlative would be powerful enough to describe it.
In fact, this is also what contemporary jazz does best since Joe Zawinul and his group Weather Report paved the way for joyful cultural blends, which are only mastered by the greatest artists, as is the case here.
Of course, the editorial teams of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move have both classified this album as “essential.”

Thierry De Clemensat
Correspondent in USA
Bayou Blue News – Bayou Blue Radio – Paris-Move

PARIS-MOVE, May 4th 2023


To buy the CD

Parlato’s website

Loueke’s website