As we search for the best new music on WEMU, we will often feature someone you’ve never heard before but think is worth your time.
Pianist Michelle Pollace, who we premiered this morning on 89.1 Jazz, is one such artist. She has worked hard to build a reputation in one of the most competitive Latin jazz communities in the world – San Francisco – and is taking her work to the national level with New Beginning, her debut CD. If you gain the respect of the Latin jazz followers of San Francisco and San Jose California – you have to be good. She has mastered the delicate art of piano montuno, the repeated Latin music figure that resembles the rhythm of riding a horse to provide the perfect underpinnings for percussive improvisation.
Her improvisational skills also must not be overlooked. While her left hand builds the tension and sinuous rhythms, her right plies lacy figures and tricky arpeggios. With New Beginning, we get to hear her great supporting players: bassist David Belove, drummer Phil Hawkins and percussionists Carlos Caro and Michaelle Goerlitz. They too, have fully comprehended the drive and articulation essential for Latin jazz. Lest you think this is a highly intellectual experience, I must add that this disc also has another crucial component of good Latin jazz – it is loads of fun! Produced by Latin jazz piano veteran, Rebeca Mauleon, New Beginning by Michelle Pollace is an excellent introduction to an outstanding new talent.