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New album from Cathlene Pineda

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    Posted: 30 Jun 2020 at 10:19pm

RAINBOW BABY, the third and most personal recording as a leader by jazz pianist and composer CATHLENE PINEDA, is an impressionist rendering of four years of motherhood, pregnancy, loss, and, ultimately, love. It is a personal tale with a universal theme.
Pineda is a classically trained pianist who began playing piano at three years old. "I started so young, I don't remember my life without the piano. It's an integral part of who I am." She always wanted to be a pianist, and she wanted to make sure her technical skills were top-notch, so she enrolled in The Mannes College of Music, an elite academy that is part of the New School in New York City. The school is known for its rigorous classical training, and many of its graduates go on to work in the world's premier orchestras, ensembles, and opera houses.
Living in New York gave Pineda a lot of opportunities to hear live jazz. She absorbed the music like a sponge and was especially drawn to the more avant-garde artists. After graduation, she spent a lot of time composing, transcribing, and going out to hear music. She also had several private lessons with David Lopato and the redoubtable Fred Hersch. Pineda also started composing during this period and applied to CalArts in Southern California to further her education and immerse herself in jazz. CalArts is a highly competitive school whose enrollment criteria is based on demonstrated talent, creativity and commitment -- all requirements Pineda easily fulfilled. She moved to the West Coast and worked on her master's degree in jazz piano and composition. After graduation, she became part of the Southern California jazz scene, working with many talented artists, like Charlie Haden, Bobby Bradford, Art Lande, Wadada Leo Smith, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Kris Tiner, Vinny Golia, and Joe LaBarbera.
Pineda released her first album of original compositions, A Week's Time, in 2014. The Los Angeles Times called the album "a graceful pleasure." Her second album, Passing: A California Suite, released in 2016, was commissioned by the Los Angeles Jazz Society and premiered at the Angel City Jazz Festival at the REDCAT theater. It is a suite of music based on the work of Los Angeles' first Poet-Laureate, Eloise Klein-Healy.
Around this time, Pineda's first child was born. "I thought I could do it all, perform and raise my baby," says Pineda. "But motherhood, especially for a new mother, is pretty overwhelming, and I had to put my performance schedule on the back burner for a while." She eventually returned to performing, and after a couple of years, she and her husband wanted to have another baby. But this time, things didn't go as planned. She was devastated after having two miscarriages. She had a young child to care for and love, and a supportive husband to help her get through it, but it still exacted a high emotional toll.
When she became pregnant a third time, she was terrified she would lose this baby, too. But, happily, she carried the baby to term, and her daughter was born in January of 2019.
Pineda had begun composing tunes for RAINBOW BABY after her second miscarriage and, with a clear mind and full heart, finished it after her second baby was born.
The experiences over the past four years of love and joy, tempered by sorrow and loss, had given her new perspectives on life and a deeper sense of empathy, which she translated into music.
For CalArts students, the school is like a family, and Pineda was lucky to be friends with some of their notable graduates, whom she asked to be on this recording. They are all leaders in their own right, and include KRIS TINER, trumpeter and composer, founder of the Epigraph Records label, and Director of Jazz Studies at Bakersfield College; drummer TINA RAYMOND is an in-demand session player and recording artist who has performed around the world; and DAVID TRANCHINA is a bass player who has composed music for jazz ensembles, chamber ensembles, and animated and documentary films.
Pineda opens the album with the tune "1Nine," which refers to the birth of her daughter, who was born in January of 2019. It was a time of joy but also a time of great concern as her father was in the ICU, 1500 miles away, after having a stroke and emergency brain surgery days before the birth. The song comprises different sections which Pineda explains, "I heard all these different pieces in my mind, and somehow they fit together to tell the story of the happiness we felt on the day my daughter was born, but also the deep weight we carried about my father's health. For me, the song represents our ability to celebrate life with all its joy and sadness." "Rainbow Baby," the title tune, refers to a baby born after a miscarriage or loss.
"Milo" is the name of her son. She wrote the song in different sections to reflect the different sides of her son's personality. "Wonder Weeks" is loosely composed tune featuring free improvising. The title refers to a book and an app that explains how a baby develops week by week over its first year. "Wild Geese II" and "Wild Geese IV" are two sections of a suite that Pineda wrote inspired by the poem of the same name by Mary Oliver. "Carriers I" and "Carriers II" is about being a mother and all the weight and responsibility that a mother carries. Pineda closes the album with "The Collective Memory." She has a long association with dancers and enjoys writing for artists in other fields, like animators and puppeteers. She originally wrote this composition for a dance troupe but adapted it for this album.
Cathlene Pineda's playing and composing are technically astute and emotionally gratifying. She is able to weave intricate patterns without overwhelming the songs with needless complexity. She writes and plays from her heart and head, which makes RAINBOW BABY a completely fulfilling musical experience.
RAINBOW BABY was released on June 5, 2020 on Orenda Records and is available at Orendarecords.com and everywhere online.

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