Zarate Pollace Project archive

maintained by Michelle Pollace

Abel Zarate, Michelle Pollace

Zarate Pollace Project (ZPP) was a latin-jazz/fusion project created by guitarist and hit songwriter Abel Zarate and pianist/composer Michelle Pollace in the early 2000s. With the help of stellar Bay Area musicians (John Santos-percussion, Paul VanWageningen-drums, Curtis Ohlson-bass, Anthony Blea-viola/violins), the duo recorded the CD "Soul Redemption" in 2004. Abel's signature soulful, catchy guitar melodies are a defining feature of ZPP's Latin-tinged music.It was Abel and Michelle's goal to create a Latin/Brazilian-flavored contemporary jazz with a positive, uplifting message, and, most important, to make the record they wanted to make. The result was a work that somewhat defied categorization -- a blend of smooth jazz, jazz fusion, and Latin jazz, with Abel's signature gift of writing beautiful melody and playing soulful lines, with Michelle's knack for off-the-beaten path harmonic stuctures. The disc garnered worldwide radio airplay and favorable reviews.

While ZPP may no longer be an active writing and performing group, the duo's music is still available for downloading and streaming. Check it out here.

Learn more about Abel here.


"If you like jazz with an international flavor, you will enjoy this CD very much. It has an upbeat yet relaxed tempo. Latin flavors sizzle throughout, with a touch of African and South American." -- artist Mari Hall, newsletter review

"Your music is a welcome antidote at a time when jazz seems to be stagnating and 'smooth' too often means 'sappy.' Your subtle compositions reveal new pleasures with each listening. Thought provoking and challenging, yet familiar and welcoming, 'Soul Redemption' evokes fresh, interesting images and reminds us of the joy to be found in discovering a truly original artist." -- Jose S.

Full Review of "Soul Redemption," by Joe Ross:

With an all-original set of smooth jazz, Abel Zarate and Michelle Pollace's musical dreams have flown. The songs on "Soul Redemption" present refined jazz with powerful rhythmic intensity and evocative melodies that make emotional statements. Zarate's guitar and Pollace's keyboard take us on a magical sojourn. Recorded in the San Francisco area, the project also features John Santos (percussion), Paul van Wageningen (drums), Curtis Ohlson (bass), Anthony Blea (violin, viola) and co-producer Greg Landau (loops). A guitar master, Abel Zarate is particularly featured as he paints a brilliant aural palette from new age acoustic jazz to Latin and funk. For a slight change, it might have been nice to hear more acoustic settings or a few vocals incorporated for one or two tracks like "Chanson Afrique." However, the vision for this professional product was clearly to provide a exhilarating and stimulating breezy instrumental jaunt from start to finish.

Guitarist Abel Zarate has achieved international success with the Latin rock band Malo, and he has been featured in the book, “Voices of Latin Rock.” Michelle Pollace’s global musical interests resulted in her studying jazz, classical and Latin piano, as well as Indonesian gamelan. Her co-written music education book and CD called “Musicreation” has been well received. Leader of the Machete Ensemble, percussionist John Santos is a master of Afro Latin rhythms. Drummer Paul van Wageningen and Abel Zarate go back to the 1970s when they played together in an R&B band, The Force. Throughout this project, bassist Curtis Ohlson conveys great power and strength on the low end of the sound spectrum. Ohlson toured with Ray Charles’ band for six years. String wizard Anthony Blea has played classical, salsa, rock, and he currently heads up his group, Anthony Blea y Su Charanga. A two-time Grammy nominee, Greg Landau has produced many CDs, film soundtracks, and videos.

On “Soul Redemption,” Zarate and Pollace lead us through a inspiring musical journey of life itself, and the joy of their uplifting music is largely in its picturesque natural and earthy elements. Some song titles give an indication of how the musicians’ instinct and intuition create gripping depictions of moonlight, autumn, ghosts, and other apparitions. “Apples, Kisses and Dreams,” for example, is beaming with happiness, pleasure and bliss. The stellar accompanists also take nature’s rhythms and allow us to connect with the music. Zarate and Pollace create circular patterns from within their soul, and they then use their compositions to illuminate the surroundings as they paint with their sonic palattes. “Soul Redemption” delivers some creative goods from ethereal textures to energetic cosmic wavefiles. So, in a sense, the album’s redemption is a type of musical fulfillment or deliverance. Carlos Santana once said, “whether you are [playing] in the bar, the church, the strip joint, or the Himalayas, the first duty of music is to complement and enhance life.” I’d say that Zarate, Pollace and their friends get it. They rise above sheer technical mastery to exhibit true compassion and beauty with every note they play.