CD: New Beginning

About the CD

Michelle's latest CD features eight original compositions and two unique arrangements of jazz and Afro-Cuban songs. Besides showcasing Michelle Pollace on piano and keyboard, the recording displays the talents of an all-star lineup: David Belove on bass; Phil Hawkins on drums; Carlos Caro and Michaelle Goerlitz on percussion; and saxophonist Kristen Strom as guest soloist. The CD is co-produced by Michelle and Rebeca Mauleon, a recognized Latin-music expert, pianist, and educator. The disc marks Michelle's new direction as solo bandleader (she previously co-led Latin jazz fusion band Zarate Pollace Project with hit songwriter Abel Zarate), an adventure that coincides with her foray into motherhood. These life events inspired the title "New Beginning."

The disc's two arrangements of well-known standards were carefully chosen. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is a popular choice of cover song. In Michelle's case, this song has a very special connection to her family. From the CD's liner notes: "My grandfather, a professional jazz pianist, once accompanied Judy Garland when she strolled into the Chicago hotel where he played; this was one of the songs they performed. I never got to hear my grandfather play, but he remains an inspiration. Arrangement dedicated to my father--whose love of jazz led me embracing the music as well--and to the memory of my grandfather."

"La Comparsa" was similarly chosen to pay homage to masters that came before, in this case, the Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona. Michelle has a special affinity for the traditional Cuban danzon, and Lecuona's iconic composition for piano suggests the signature rhythm of the danzon, the baqueteo, throughout. On "New Beginning" Michelle rethinks the piece's harmony. The arrangement features venerable Bay Area saxophonist Kristen Strom and evolves into a rollicking, joyous descarga (jam session).

While the cover songs selected allow Michelle to honor the roots of jazz and Latin music while offering her perspective and a new creative voice, the eight original compositions (one a collaboration between Michelle and guitarist Abel Zarate) explore the theme of a new beginning.


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