Listening to Rainbow Baby, Cathlene Pineda’s fascinating and stylistically multi-faceted reflections on the joys, sorrows and challenges of her experiences with motherhood, pregnancy, brutal loss and redemptive love, we can be grateful that the classically trained pianist ultimately came to embrace the freer forms of jazz during her time living in New York and Los Angeles.
This freedom allows her to capture the multiple swirls of attendant emotions that accompany her recent life-changing events, starting with “1Nine,” the gently lyrical, then increasingly boisterous opening meditation on the birth of her daughter while her father was battling for his life in ICU. On the tender and gentle, then head-spinning emotional roller coaster of the title track, she follows early whimsy with wild improvisations and avant garde expansions before a prevailing sense of calm and relief – all to illustrate the topsy-turvy feelings of delivering a healthy baby after a period mourning a heartbreaking miscarriage.
Along the way, Pineda invites us via her keen melodic, harmonic and improvisational creativity to meet her son “Milo” and his multitude of personality traits; takes us through the wealth of information about how a baby develops week to week that she found on the app “Wonder Weeks”; and, among other things, reflects on the day to day realities and array of responsibilities inherent in being a mother (via “Carries I and “Carriers II”).
There are a few outliers Pineda originally penned for other professional purposes that fit seamlessly here, most notably, the hypnotic, high octane closing track “The Collective Memory,” which she originally wrote for a dance troupe. For the most part, these dynamic tracks are attached to some pretty hefty emotional experiences. Yet you don’t really have to know Pineda’s intense backstories – and how she went from loss to love - to appreciate the unique energy she creates with her gifted ensemble of Kris Tiner (trumpet), Tina Raymond (drums) and David Tranchina (bass). These pieces stand on their own as showcases for a remarkable evolving jazz talent.