Review: Latin-Flavored Jazz

by Grady Harp

There is a definite Cuban ring to this collection of ten works recorded by accomplished pianist and composer Michelle Pollace. Apparently the correct core label is Afro-Cuban but whatever the designator this is a CD full of rich melodies and rhythms that are infectious. Not having the privilege of hearing Pollace before this recording means this listener was not aware that before this there was a different emphasis, a different sound. Whatever that might have been it is likely it was not as rich as this group of eight songs written be Pollace as well as two songs re-thought' by her.

The ensemble she has coordinated and with whom she now works includes David Belove, bass, Phil Hawkins, drums, Carlos Caro and Michaelle Goerlitz, percussion with a guest spot by Kristin Strom, saxophone. This is obviously a highly skilled group of musicians and the ensemble effect is intricately connected.

The works Michelle Pollace has 're-thought' or arranged in her way of approaching old favorites are Ernesto Lecuona's 'La Comparsa' with a terrific sax solo by Strom, and that old favorite `Somewhere Over the Rainbow' offered in a jazz cha-cha upbeat. The other tracks are all Pollace creations and she labels them Jazz, Brazilian, Latin Jazz, Tropical, and Smooth jazz. On most she is at the piano but on some she transfers to the electric piano. They range from upbeat to slow an easy and languid, but all of them are well worth repeated exposure.

This is a fine album no matter your tastes in jazz - pure or Latin influenced. Michelle Pollace and friends are terrific.

READ original review here.
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