Lisa Pollard

I See Your Face Before Me

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Lisa Pollard had been visible on the Bay Area jazz scene for 25 years when, in 1993, she recorded her first album as a leader I See Your Face Before Me. Backed by a solid rhythm section consisting of bassist Ray Brown, pianist Benny Green (not to be confused with the late trombonist Bennie Green), and drummer Grady Tate, the tenor saxophonist (who switches to soprano on "The Things We Did Last Summer") delivers a conventional hard bop CD that is decent and competent but offers few surprises. Many of the standards that Pollard chooses had long since been done to death, including "Sometimes I'm Happy," "I See Your Face Before Me," and Miles Davis' "All Blues" -- and she doesn't bring anything new or out of the ordinary to them. Since Pollard is little known outside of the Bay Area, she would have been much better off choosing overlooked gems and then providing definitive versions. Nonetheless, she's a likable, swinging player, and she's in fine company when tenor sax great Red Holloway joins her on two Coleman Hawkins numbers from the 1940s ("Stuffy" and "Stalking") and Duke Ellington's "I Let a Song Go out of My Heart." While this isn't a bad album, one hoped that Pollard would be more daring and less predictable on subsequent releases.

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