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Nicki Parrott: It’s Possible to Sing and Play the Bass

An interview with the Australian-born bassist and vocalist about her latest album and her long tenure with Les Paul

Nicki Parrott (photo by Brian Wittman)
Nicki Parrott (photo by Brian Wittman)

Bassist Nicki Parrott is truly a musician’s musician. Except that she also sings. Although she came a little late to the vocals game, she’s become an accomplished singer, both as a recording artist and as a performer. Her latest album, New York to Paris, is her eighth for Arbors Records and beautifully showcases her unique voice on a set of standards inspired by those two iconic cities. Of course, she also plays bass on the album, which features Harry Allen on saxophone, Gil Goldstein on accordion, John DiMartino on piano, and Alvin Atkinson on drums.

Born and raised in a small town outside Sydney, Australia, Parrott absorbed the music of jazz greats from America and eventually followed that sound to the United States in the ’90s. Jazz and music insiders often recognize her from her long-term stint with the legendary Les Paul at his famous Monday-night gig at Iridium in New York City. Parrott became an onstage foil for Paul, who, clearly from another generation, liked to make fun of the “girl” in the band, while she in turn would make up songs making fun of him.

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