Trombonist Michael Pallas to Release New Project “Gateway” on August 23rd, 2024 | LISTEN!

Versatile New York-Based Trombonist and Composer
Michael Pallas Explores Latin, Jazz, Neo-Soul
and Hip-Hop on Gateway

Available August 23 via Truth Revolution Records,
Gateway Features Saxophonist Lomar Brown,
Pianist Yeissonn Villamar, Bassist John Benitez,
Drummer Jonathan Barber, and
Percussionist Nelson Mathew Gonzalez

With the release of his debut album, Gateway, the Phoenix-raised, New York City-based trombonist, composer, and educator Michael Pallas looks to make his mark as a leader to be reckoned with.

A trombonist inspired by J.J. Johnson. Curtis Fuller, Steve Turre and Papo Vasquez, Pallas is a proud alumnus of the Jackie McLean Institute, founded by legendary alto saxophonist and educator Jackie McLean in Hartford, Connecticut.

While Pallas has been performing professionally for over 15 years, including stints with legendary jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, mambo big band leader Steve Oquendo, Afrobeat band Antibalas, hip-hop group Soul Science Lab and others, the trombonist was inspired to become a solo artist during the pandemic.

“I really had a lot of time just to reflect on where my career was at that point,” Pallas says, “and I felt like it was necessary for me to start moving in this direction of really seriously writing my own music, and eventually releasing my own record. So I began to compose tunes that dealt with themes and emotions that I and many artists were facing during the first two years of the decade.”

Backed by saxophonist Lomar Brown, pianist Yeissonn Villamar, bassist John Benítez, drummer Jonathan Barber, and percussionist Nelson Mathew Gonzalez – with co-producer Alex Meltzer – the 13 Pallas-penned selections on Gateway reflect the myriad inventions and dimensions of 21st century jazz.

The lead-off number, “Life On Mars,” is an infectious Cubop composition written for the nickname McLean gave to Hartford, and its non-resemblance to McLean’s beloved Big Apple. “One For The City” is a bouncy, upbeat waltz dedicated to New York City, followed by the midtempo backbeats of “Streaming Hope,” inspired by online concerts and jams musicians played during the pandemic.

“Patient(s)” is a hypnotic, hip-hop flavored interlude, which sets up “Disu’s Dream,” a moving rumba dedicated to memory of Pallas’ friend and fellow trombonist Jason Disu, who passed away in 2021. In contrast, “Counterfeit Blues” features the arresting spoken word artist Ghazi Omair talking about police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, which introduces “The Verdict,” a hard bop comment on the subject.

“Today And Forever,” is a beautiful Kenny Barron-style ballad. “Next Exit” is another dreamy, hip-hop friendly interlude, followed by the title track; an exuberant, contemporary jazz-style selection in celebration of the return of live music, bookended by Afrofuturistic, neo-soul number “Beyond (The Gateway).” “El Boli” is based on Chick Corea’s “Humpty Dumpty,” and the last track, “Variant,” is a twilight-toned blend of dance beats, psychedelic effects and Afro-Colombian cumbia rhythms.

Pallas was very specific about how the recording was sequenced. “I was able to tell the story through the songs, and they’re all placed in a chronological order,” Pallas remarks. “I thought long and hard about how the tracks should be placed.”

Gateway is a testament to how versatile a trombonist and composer Pallas is while also showing that he’s fluent in many different genres. “I’m excited to share all these ways of playing and approaching new styles of music on the trombone,” Pallas says.

About Michael Pallas

Pallas was born in Los Angeles in 1990 to a Dominican immigrant mother and a father of European heritage who was born and raised in New York City. Pallas, who was brought up in Phoenix, started playing piano in the first grade, and took up the trombone at the age of 11.

“Once I picked it up, I excelled on it pretty rapidly, in comparison to my peers,” Pallas proudly recalls, “and a lot of the reason why was because I’d been studying piano before I even picked up the trombone. So, I really had a strong musical foundation.”

Pallas played in several local bands, specifically with the Young Sounds of Arizona: a non-profit 501-(c)(3) organization composed of young musicians playing in several jazz bands. Pallas’ major instructors were Robert McAllister, Principal Trombonist for the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, and Milas Yoes, Director of Instrumental Music, Jazz Studies and Humanities at Phoenix College, where Pallas attended.

Pallas told Yoes that he wanted to attend a conservatory, so he put him in touch with jazz trombonist Steve Davis, who taught at The Jackie McLean Institute at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. “I went out there and auditioned for Steve,” Pallas says, “and once I arrived there, it changed my life. It showed me that there is a path in music, for people that are serious, and you can really excel and make a living off of it.” Pallas attended McLean’s school and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 2013 while also collaborating and studying with Rene McLean at the Artists Collective and working frequently with Ed Fast and Conga Bop.

Pallas moved to New York City in 2014 and went on to gig with several Latin bandleaders including John “Dandy” Rodriguez, Gilberto “Pulpo” Colon, Steven Oquendo, Tito Rodriguez, Jr., Alex Matos, Tito Rojas and Lusito and Roberto Quintero. Pallas also worked with many jazz artists and ensembles including Abdullah Ibrahim, Steve Davis, Rene McLean, Robert Edwards Big Band, the George Gee Orchestra and the Cotton Club Orchestra. In 2021, Pallas began working with the NYC-based hip-hop and multimedia act Soul Science Lab. Between 2022 and 2023 Pallas toured throughout North America, Europe and Africa and recorded with the Grammy-nominated Afrobeat band Antibalas. Pallas has also performed with New York retro soul and R&B group Ernest Ernie and The Sincerities.

Shortly before the pandemic, and towards the end of Barry Harris’ life, Pallas participated in the legendary pianist’s Orchestra Project. “Although we never performed or recorded it was an invite only workshop that met weekly in Manhattan to rehearse Harris’ compositions and arrangements for large ensemble,” Pallas says.

Pallas, who received his Master of Music degree from New Jersey City University in 2022, is also a devoted educator. He taught music theory and directed jazz ensembles at the Music Conservatory of Westchester, from 2014 to 2023. Pallas currently teaches with the Harmony Program, which helps New York City children develop healthy habits and life skills through collective music-making, preparing them for long-term success.

Michael Pallas • Gateway
Truth Revolution Recording Collective • Release Date: August 23, 2024

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