Cathlene Pineda: Rainbow Baby

Dan McClenaghan By

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Cathlene Pineda: Rainbow Baby
Charlie Parker said: "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn." In Cathlene Pineda's case, it could be said: "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your piano, or your compositional pen."

Motherhood is a big part of what Pineda has lived, an equilibrium of emotion on the spectrum of sorrow and joy resulting—over a four year period—from two devastating miscarriages and two joyous births. Now, she celebrates that experience in the company of a splendid jazz quartet with Rainbow Baby. The term "Rainbow Baby" refers to a child born shortly after the loss of a previous baby due to misscarriage, still birth or death in infancy. Joy following devastation, a rainbow after a dark storm.

The disc's opening cut, "1Nine," refers to the birth of the pianist's daughter, Pineda's "rainbow baby," during the time that the newcomer's grandfather—Pineda's father—was in the hospital fighting the ravages of a stroke and the prospect of brain surgery. "Serenity" is the word that comes to mind in the opening minute of the tune, Pineda, with a soft touch, playing some cushioned chords—a second heartbeat inside the mother's body? The metronomic reading from the hospital monitor of a stricken patient? Joy and sadness dancing in a vortex of life's vagaries? Kris Tiner's trumpet opens with a soft-tufted tone, contemplative and contented, moving to a mood of melancholy and eventually agitation and anguish over the lub-dub of Pineda's accompaniment. And when the trumpet drops out, the pianist shifts into a spikey, intricate urgency, as bassist David Tranchina and drummer Tina Raymond take the tempo up a notch, an acceleration of the pulse, moving the tune into a sort of brassy modern hard bop mode.

The twelve-minute title-tune gives off a lighthearted vibe, tinted with solemnity, Tiner's straightforward storytelling underscored by Pineda's complex and roiling undercurrents. And if, by this time in the disc's spin, Pineda's distinctive compositional acumen isn't clear, it will be with the arrival of "Milo," and further in "Wild Geese II" and "Wild Geese IV, and then "Carriers I" and "Carriers II," music concerning motherhood's weight and responsibilities, deftly and beautifully articulated, because Cathlene Pineda has lived it.

Track Listing

1Nine; Rainbow Baby; Milo; Wonder Weeks; Wild Geese II; Wild Geese IV; Carriers I; Carriers II; The Collective Memory.


Cathlene Pineda: piano; Kris Turner: trumpet; Tina Raymond: drums; David Tranchina: bass.

Album information

Title: Rainbow Baby | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Orenda Records

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