Marialy Pacheco: A Sunshine State of Mind
"That's why in Cuba it's so tough. If you're really good, you get to play with the best musicians, but if everyone knows you're not good, there's nowhere to hide, and they're not going to be polite about your playing," she says, laughing again. "Maybe I need to learn to be more subtle about those things, but for me how you play and how you are as a person are two different things. There are some musicians who are not nice people, but when they play their instrument, out comes this amazing music."
Pacheco has led a trio for two years in Brisbane, with brothers Pat and Joe Marchisella, bassist and drummer, respectively. It's a trio that excites Pacheco. "They are two of the best musicians I have had the pleasure to play with. I am really happy with my trio. We have a new CD coming out in December, and some of the tracks are inspired by Joe because he's such a good drummer. The boy can play absolutely everything. I thought, 'I'm going to write some really cool stuff for him.' With my first trio in Germany, I had to adapt to them a little bit because they weren't familiar with Cuban music and Cuban rhythms, so I had to change the way I played and adapt my songs. But here in Australia, with the boys I can push the boundaries as far as I can, and they'll play it, whatever it is. It's really amazing to have players like that."
Talented jazz musicians, it seems, are almost as common as 'roos in Australia. Pacheco agrees. "There is amazing talent here. And not only musicians but dancers as well. I had the pleasure to work with one of the best contemporary dance companies here. They did a project called Romeo & Juliet with original music written for the show, and I was part of the ensemble that played with them. They called me to play the piano because there was some improvisation involved, and they needed someone who could improvise just like that. It was a beautiful experience to be able to play live music for these amazing dancers. I remember at rehearsals making lots of mistakes because I couldn't take my eyes off them," says Pacheco, laughing.
Pacheco's first recording on Australian soil, Songs That I Love, features several compositions that she had never performed outside of her practice room, and the experience of recording and subsequently playing live Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight" and "The Song is You," plus Salvador's "Danza Para 4," has had a liberating effect on Pacheco. "It was about time," she laughs. With the standards, I was a little bit afraid because when you hear [pianists] Keith Jarrett, Oscar Peterson or Brad Mehldau playing these standards, you think, 'OK, what can I do?'" Pacheco says, laughing again. "But in the end, I thought, 'I'm just going to play them my way and not over-think it too much. I'm going to play them from my heart and not worry about what Keith Jarrett or Brad Mehldau would do.' Now I'm playing many more standards."
Two of the most striking compositions on Songs That I Love are Pacheco originals. "Sunshine State" is a tribute to her adopted Brisbane and the state of Queensland. "I will never forget when I came here from Germany after five years there, and I arrived at Sydney Airport, and it was 35 degrees," recalls Pacheco. "It was sunny and so bright, so warm. And I'll never forget the feeling I had, which was: this is just like Cuba. It does feel like being in Cuba, in many ways, especially in summer here. I wrote that song as a tribute to Brisbane because it's very beautiful, and the people are beautiful as well. They're very relaxed. There's no stress, and everything can be done tomorrow," Pacheco laughs. "And if so, why not?"
The rhapsodic "Bremen" pays tribute to Pacheco's home in Germany. "I love that city very much, and when you listen to that song, you can hear the love. It's also a bit nostalgic. I get very emotional every time I play it; it's amazing. I cry, sometimes," says Pacheco, laughing, "and I think, 'Jeez, Marialy. Stop it!' It brings back all the memories of the really great times and all my friends. It's very honest, I think. Even though I always complained about the coldit's so coldbut when you look through the window and everything's covered in snow, it's so white, so peaceful. It was an important part of my life. Now, the Sunshine State is another part of my life."