Charlie Ballantine: Cold Coffee

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
Charlie Ballantine: Cold Coffee
Indianapolis-born jazz guitarist/composer Charlie Ballantine has a special relationship with American music of all kinds: jazz, folk, the blues (his father was a blues guitarist, providing some of Ballantine's earliest musical memories) and contemporary rock. His previous album Life Is Brief: The Music Of Bob Dylan (Green Mind Records, 2018) made the inspiration outside of jazz clear, and previous covers had included songs by Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and the Pixies.

This album—a trio with long-time band-mates bassist Jesse Wittman and drummer Chris Parker—returns to mainly Ballantine originals. "Strange Idea" opens the set with a jagged theme that may not be truly strange, but it certainly is a departure from the Americana flavor of many of Ballantine's compositions. The band develops the theme into a massive, over-driven climax. The title tune continues a bit of that angular feeling, also offering Wittman a fine solo bass spotlight. Ballantine abandoned an attempt at an all-standards album to follow Life Is Brief, but two standards made it onto this program.

"My One and Only Love" became known from Frank Sinatra's version; it later became a tenor saxophone vehicle for players including Ben Webster, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. After a lyrical, rubato treatment of the tune the arrangement veers into electronic territory with backwards guitar accompaniment (but introduced in a way that seems completely natural). "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" was again recorded by Frank Sinatra (with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra), then by singer Sarah Vaughan, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and many others. The trio's upbeat rendition provides ample demonstration of their ability to swing.

"Moon City" ends the album with loops riding on top of the haunting chordal vamp that underlies the whole song. A fitting conclusion to a program that smoothly integrates bebop-based small group jazz, contemporary electric guitar techniques and creative composition. The Bob Dylan tribute brought Charlie Ballantine some much-deserved attention, but his own music is just as worthy of notice.

Track Listing

Strange Idea; Zani; Cold Coffee; My One and Only Love; Further; East of the Sun; Bliss; Moon City.


Charlie Ballantine: guitar; Jesse Wittman: double bass; Chris Parker: drums.

Album information

Title: Cold Coffee | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album



Shop Amazon


CODE Quartet
First Mile
Lamb Anderson Sorgen
What are the Odds?
Dennis Winge
Untucked In Hannover
Tom Rainey Obbligato
Aliens & Wizards
The Spike Wilner Trio
Manhattan Samba
Hendrik Meurkens
Almost Alone Vol 1
Samo Salamon & Friends


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.