Julian Waterfall Pollack

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Julian Waterfall Pollack
Julian J3PO Pollack.png
Background information
Also known asJ3PO
Born (1988-06-28) 28 June 1988 (age 32)
InstrumentsPiano, synthesizer
LabelsRopeadope, Berthold, Junebeat
Associated actsJ3PO, The Lesson, Marcus Miller

Julian Waterfall Pollack / J3PO (born June 28, 1988) is an American pianist, keyboardist, composer, and producer associated with jazz, classical, and hip hop music.[1][2]


Early life[edit]

Raised in Berkeley, California, Pollack was introduced to music through his parents, Susan Waterfall (an accomplished concert pianist), and Allan Pollack (a conductor, saxophonist, and music professor at University of California, Berkeley).[3][4] He began formal study of the piano at age of five with his mother, and was called a child prodigy, able to play difficult pieces of classical music well beyond his years. He attended The Crowden School in Berkeley, California, for his middle school years, where he received training in orchestral playing, chamber music, harmony, and counterpoint, as well as a courses in the liberal arts.[1]

He later attended Berkeley High School where he developed his love for jazz, playing as principal pianist for four years in their award-winning jazz ensemble. He released his debut jazz trio album, Goin' for It, to much critical acclaim in the San Francisco Bay Area and achieved national recognition by being featured on Jazziz magazine's monthly CD.[5]

After completing high schooling in 2006, he was offered a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music, but opted to instead attend New York University in New York City.[1]

2007 – 2014[edit]

In 2007, he appeared as a guest on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz radio show aired on NPR.[6] He released his second trio album, Infinite Playground, to great critical acclaim in 2010. The album featured bassist Noah Garabedian and drummer Evan Hughes.[7] The album showcased Pollack's growing interest in blending multiple genres with jazz improvisation and classical composition. It included Pollack's original pieces with "My Funny Valentine" by Rodgers and Hart, "Cherokee" by Ray Noble, and "And I Love Her" by the Beatles.[7] He continued this trajectory with the trio's 2013 album, Waves of Albion, which included a polyrhythmic arrangement of "What Sarah Said" by Death Cab for Cutie, "Flume" by Bon Iver, and the American folk song "Oh Shenandoah".[8]

Pollack composed a three movement piano concerto in 2012. It was premiered by the Camellia Symphony in Sacramento. The work's style and form drew heavily from jazz, minimalism, and French impressionism.[3] In 2013, Pollack composed "Brooklyn Boomerang", a piece for two pianos which premiered at the Greenwich House in Manhattan in November by Pollack and acclaimed pianist Natalie Tenenbaum.[9] He also completed a string quartet that was commissioned by the Telluride Chamber Music Festival and the Ives String Quartet.[10][11] In 2014, Pollack premiered a new composition for orchestra entitled Night Flower at the Mendocino Music Festival.[12]

2015 – 2018[edit]

In 2015, Pollack began exploring his interest in electronic music, synthesizers, sounds design and production, releasing music under the moniker "J3PO." The name came from his trio mate Evan Hughes:

“He called me up one day and randomly left me a voicemail starting with ‘Hey J3PO’ – and ever since then that was my alter-ego music nickname. What’s cool is that if you look at the logo (designed by Emily Hoerdemann) the ‘3’ is actually a ‘w’ on its side. So you have J.W.PO which are my initials in addition to referencing the droid C3PO from ‘Star Wars,’ which I love.”[13]

He released The 90s EP in 2016, a collection of nineties pop songs re-harmonized, rearranged, and sung on the talkbox.[14] In 2017 he released three original songs in the same vein, entitled Memory EP.[15]

Starting in 2016 Pollack joined New York's celebrated Lower East Side underground hip-hop band The Lesson GK, a weekly jam session that seamlessly blends elements of experimental Hip-Hop, Jazz, Funk and Soul.[16] In 2018 he began touring with legendary bassist and composer, Marcus Miller, joining his residency at The Blue Note Tokyo,[17] and continuing on for several tours of the United States and Europe.[13]

2019 – Present[edit]

In 2019, Julian (as J3PO) released his album Small Plates, a collection of 12 tracks that range from simple lo-fi beats to complex jazztronica future house joints. Inspired by analog synths and sample-based music, the album fuses Julian's love for today's contemporary production styles with a nod to the jazz tradition and the spontaneity of live music and improvisation.[18]

He began working closely with Clavia Nord Keyboards, designing a signature patch library for the Nord Stage 3.[19] He also released a signature pack for the Nord Wave 2.[20]

In 2020, Julian scored the indie film The Sound of the Wind, directed and written by Jared Douglas.[13]

Julian was part of the sound design team to create patches for the new Prophet 5 reissue from Sequential.[21] During the Coronavirus pandemic, Julian released a free bank of sounds for the Disco DSP synthesizer OB-Xd.[22]

In 2021, Julian was asked to create presets for the Softube Model 84 Polyphonic Synthesizer[23] which is a circuit-modeled emulation of a 1984 six-voice synth.[24]

He signed with Ropeadope Records for his full length album, MAINS, released June 4, 2021.[25]


As leader[edit]

Title Year Label
MAINS 2021 Ropeadope[25]
The Sound of the Wind (Motion Picture Soundtrack) 2020 Sound of Wind Movie, LLC[26]
Small Plates 2019 Bridge and Water[27]
Waves of Albion 2013 Berthold[8][28]
Infinite Playground 2010 Junebeat[7][29]
Goin’ For It 2006 Jazzschool[5]

Select albums as sideman[edit]

Album artist Title Year Label
Evan Marien Parallels 2020 Evan Marien[30]
Chase Baird (feat. Steve Lyman, J3PO & Dan Chmielinski) Pulsar 2020 Outside In Music
Steve Lyman Revolver 2013 Independent[31][32]
Peter Schwebs In-Between Seasons & Places 2012 Berthold[33]
Grace Weber Hope & Heart 2011 Junebeat[34]
Chase Baird Crosscurrent 2010 Junebeat[35]
Peter Schwebs Stories from Sugar Hill 2010 Laika[36]


  1. ^ a b c Wiegand, David (22 July 2010). "Julian Pollack in Mendocino for family biz". SFGate. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Take Five with Julian Waterfall Pollack". All About Jazz. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b Ortiz, Edward. "Camellia Symphony premieres jazz artist's piano concerto". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  4. ^ Bullock, Ken (26 September 2013). "Around & About Jazz: Julian Pollack Trio CD Release Concert at Yoshi's: Waves of Albion. Category: Arts & Events from The Berkeley Daily Planet". Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  5. ^ a b Scheinin, Richard (August 3, 2006). "Bay Area pianist, 17, records solid jazz CD". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  6. ^ "Julian Waterfall Pollack on Piano Jazz". NPR.org. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Wiegand, David (6 June 2010). "CD: Julian Waterfall Pollack, 'Playground'". SFGate. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  8. ^ a b Lindsay, Bruce (1 March 2014). "Julian Waterfall Pollack Trio: Waves Of Albion". All About Jazz. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  9. ^ "Concert: Music for Two Pianos". Greenwich House. 23 November 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  10. ^ Klingsporn, Katie (8 August 2013). "40 Years of Intimate Chamber Concerts". Telluride Daily Planet. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  11. ^ Bratman, David (25 April 2014). "What Would Charles Ives Do?". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  12. ^ "Festival Orchestra: Mendocino Music Festival". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
  13. ^ a b c "Mendo-born Pollack travels Europe with "Small Plates" and a Miles Davis partner". The Mendocino Beacon. 2019-06-24. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  14. ^ WORKS, GF. "GF WORKS | J3PO Talkbox Story". GF WORKS | J3PO Talkbox Story. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  15. ^ Memory EP - J3PO | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved 2021-05-19
  16. ^ "The Lesson GK". Europe Jazz Network. 2019-10-11. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  17. ^ "【BLUE NOTE TOKYO】MARCUS MILLER". Blue Note TOKYO (in Japanese). Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  18. ^ "Julian Pollack". Sequential. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  19. ^ "J3PO Signature Sound Bank | Nord Keyboards". www.nordkeyboards.com. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  20. ^ "J3PO Signature Sound Bank | Nord Keyboards". www.nordkeyboards.com. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  21. ^ "Prophet-10". Sequential. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  22. ^ "Julian Pollack / J3PO releases free OB-Xd synth bank". KVR Audio. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  23. ^ "MATRIXSYNTH: J3PO - Softube Model 84 - "Delorean Fantasy"". www.matrixsynth.com. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  24. ^ "MATRIXSYNTH: Introducing Model 84 Polyphonic Synthesizer by Softube". www.matrixsynth.com. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  25. ^ a b "J3PO". ropeadope. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  26. ^ The Sound of the Wind (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), retrieved 2020-12-21
  27. ^ Track, Inside. "Small Plates". JAZZIZ Magazine. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  28. ^ "Julian Waterfall Pollack: Waves of Albion". All Music. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  29. ^ "Julian Waterfall Pollack: Infinite Playground". All Music. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  30. ^ Magazine, Bass. "Evan Marien x Dana Hawkins Release New Album 'Parallels'". Bass Magazine - The Future of Bass. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  31. ^ "Steve Lyman: Revolver". All Music. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  32. ^ Lindsay, Bruce. "Steve Lyman: Revolver". Smalls Live. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  33. ^ "In-Between Seasons and Places". All Music. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  34. ^ Lorenz, Renee. "Grace Weber brings "Hope & Heart" to Milwaukee". On Milwaukee. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
  35. ^ Silsbee, Kirk (2011-03-01). "Chase Baird Crossurrent". Downbeat. Elmhurst, Illinois: Maher Publications.
  36. ^ "Stories From Sugar Hil". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2014-08-01.

External links[edit]