Michelle Pollace – New Beginning

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Presenting Michelle Pollace’s album, New Beginning

Eight original themes and two arrangements of jazz and Afro-Cuban songs make up this Latin jazz work created by pianist Michelle Pollace and produced by the same Michelle and Rebeca Mauleón, a recognized Latin music expert, pianist, and educator. This musical production gives Michelle the opportunity to take a new step in her career as a solo bandleader. Previously she was the co-leader of a Latin jazz fusion band called the “Zárate Pollace Project” with guitarist and songwriter Abel Zárate.

This soft jazz and sentimental album starts with the well-known standard “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, a song that you could classify as a cool jazz song, free bolero, cha cha chá or simply Latin jazz tumbao; this theme is all in one because Michelle subtlety gets the perfect mix in each piano line accompanied by the metrical and colorful percussion, and the precision of the bass sound.

What I like about this album is the cadence, swing and softness Michelle puts into her interpreta-tion. This is all about the awareness of her fingers’ feeling over the black and white piano keys. Michelle’s playing is the game of touching and perceiving the piano hammer pulse of each key in the time of the music. A good example of Michelle’s musical awareness in Latin jazz is “La Comparsa”, the unforgettable Ernesto Lecuona’s Cuban song, where the dialog between the in-strument and Mrs. Pollace is magical, producing a crescendo in rhythm and feeling.

As I mentioned before Michelle co-led the Zárate Pollace Project. This project was part of the musical contributions of many Bay Area luminaries, including John Santos, Michael Spiro, and others to realize its musical blend of jazz, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban styles live and on the debut CD Soul Redemption (2005). Mrs. Pollace was an orchestra member in Lou Harrison’s interna-tionally renowned Gamelan Si Betty, a keyboardist for Chepito Areas (Santana’s original percus-sionist and arranger), a chorus member in the Gilbert & Sullivan theater company, and a bassist for a grunge band, among other important musical projects. She is also co-author of Musicrea-tion, a book about music-instruction method.

Michelle has a wonderful musical career, one where the listener can see her commitment to jazz and other rhythms. It seems to be that she always plays with committed musicians and this album is not an exception. New Beginning displays the talents of great musicians including David Be-love on bass; Phil Hawkins on drums; Carlos Caro and Michaelle Goerlitz on percussion; Rebeca Mauleón on chimes, clave and chekeré; and the saxophonist Kristen Strom as guest soloist.

If you want to experience the sentimental saudade of Latin jazz with a pinch of funky beat, listen to “Ondas Do Mar” (Waves of Sea) and you will be moved from your daily place to an unknown world where you will be able to play and jump as Michelle does with her instrument.

Tracks: 1. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, 2. Hot House Dandelion 3. New Beginning, 4. Forró, 5.Ondas Do Mar, 6. Be Right Back, 7. La Comparsa, 8. First Flight, 9. Bright Eyes, 10. That Was Then.

Personnel: Michelle Pollace: piano and keyboard; David Belove: bass; Phil Hawkins: drums; Carlos Caro: percussion; Michaelle Goerlitz: percussion (tracks 4, 5 and 8); Kristen Strom: soprano sax (tracks 6 and 7); Rebeca Mauleón: chimes (track 3), clave, chekeré (track 9).

Michelle Pollace on the Web: michellepollace.com

Label: C&P Music | Release date: February 2013

Reviewed by: Oscar Montagut