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Jon Balke - Siwan: Nahnou Houm

Read "Nahnou Houm" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

When Norwegian keyboardist/composer Jon Balke began the Siwan project in 2007 it grew out of a fascination with Andalusian culture, and an imaginary musical history. What would have happened in European and world musical development if the Inquisition had never happened? Siwan (ECM, 2009) brought together Gharnati music (represented by vocalist Amina Alaoui and violinist Kheir Eddine M Kachiche), Baroque and improvised contemporary music. This album seeks to establish the concept as a working unit. Only Balke, Helge ...

IN PICTURES

Chamoisic Festival VIII Edition

Read "Chamoisic Festival VIII Edition" reviewed by Antonio Baiano

Held in the village of Chamois, located in Valle d'Aosta (Italy), the Chamoisic Festival was founded by composer/trumpeter Giorgio Li Calzi. Since its inception, the festival has presented a wide range of music, from classical to jazz, folk and electronica, on stages surrounded by the majestic Alps. The 8th annual edition featured the Selene Framarin Trio, the Iain MacFarlane Trio, the Pugile Trio and saxophonist Diego Borotti. Jon Balke closed the festival on Sunday with his orchestra featuring ...

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Jon Balke: Warp

Read "Warp" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Best known for his Magnetic North Orchestra, pianist and composer Jon Balke has a background that is rich with global influences and diverse musical stylings. Trained as a classical pianist in his youth, Balke was playing with Masqualero on Bande à Part (ECM, 1985) by the time he was eighteen. That recording, in the company of Arild Andersen, Nils Petter Molvær, Tore Brunborg and Jon Christensen, set some enduring musical relationships in motion, with all but Andersen going on to ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Jon Balke: Magnetic Works 1993-2001

Read "Jon Balke: Magnetic Works 1993-2001" reviewed by John Kelman

Jon Balke Magnetic Works 1993-2001 ECM Records 2012 As his flagship Magnetic North Orchestra nears its two-decade anniversary in 2013, Norwegian pianist/composer/bandleader Jon Balke has been performing occasional shows with Magnetic Book, taking a fresh look at the group's repertoire through an expanded edition where its core septet is augmented with an additional six baroque string players. Its 2011 performance, at the Oslo International Jazz Festival, was so compelling in its implementation of unorthodox compositional ...

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Jon Balke: Diverted Travels

Read "Diverted Travels" reviewed by John Kelman

As Jon Balke moves further and further away from his '80s work with the Miles-informed group Masqualero, he moves deeper into abstraction, experimenting with instrumental combinations that allow for a broad range of textures within an ever-expanding concept. Since the mid-'90s, with his constantly shifting Magnetic North Orchestra, he has explored the juncture between composition and improvisation in a way that assimilates an increasing number of world music influences, yet never seems to sound directly like any of them. Diverted ...

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Jon Balke Batagraf: Say And Play

Read "Say And Play" reviewed by John Kelman

He may be nowhere near a household name in North America, but elsewhere-- in particular in his native Norway--pianist Jon Balke's influence continues to grow. That he's better known for the music he writes--and the contexts in which he delivers it--shouldn't be taken as a negative, either; only that, with projects like the brass-heavy Oslo 13, chamber-tinged Magnetic North Orchestra and culturally and stylistically cross-pollinated Siwan (ECM, 2009), the collaboration-minded Balke simply doesn't opt for contexts where his own playing ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Jokleba: Jokleba! / nu jok?

Read "Jokleba: Jokleba! / nu jok?" reviewed by John Kelman

Jøkleba Jøkleba! / nu jøk? Universal Music AS, Norway 2011 (1992) It was the show of the year. When veteran bassist Dave Holland had to pull out of his performance at Norway's Vossa Jazz 2011 due to a serious family illness, the festival approached another veteran with a desperate plea for help. From 1991-96, Jøkleba was a Norwegian collective that wasn't quite yet a super group, but has ultimately proven to be one: keyboardist ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Jon Balke: Siwan

Read "Jon Balke: Siwan" reviewed by Nenad Georgievski

Jon Balke Siwan ECM Records 2009

Keyboardist Jon Balke's project Siwan is another category-defying masterpiece blending different elements from various traditions and styles into something special. It is an incredibly powerful work, where Balke makes the kind of cinematic music that simply defies tidy description because of its richness of resources and references. He invites a 12 piece baroque ensemble, Barokksolistene, Algerian violinist Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche, Iranian zarb player Pedram Khavar Zamini, ...

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Jon Balke: Siwan

Read "Siwan" reviewed by John Kelman

A banner year for ECM in many respects, 2009 has seen two specific releases that, in their intrepid conceptual cross-pollination, stand poised as contemporary masterpieces. One is composer/sound sculptor Ambrose Field's exploration of 15th Century composer Guillame Dufay's music with tenor John Potter on the forward-thinking Being Dufay (ECM, 2009); the other is Norwegian keyboardist/composer Jon Balke's Siwan. Being Dufay turned music from a European classical environs ultra-modernistic, even for this 21st Century. Balke takes music from Middle ...

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Jon Balke: Siwan

Read "Siwan" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

The competent and successful musico-cultural eutection promoted by ECM founder Manfred Eicher since the release of Jan Garbarek/Hilliard Ensemble's Officium (ECM, 1993) takes another quantum step with keyboardist Jon Balke's imaginative and far reaching Siwan. Balke enters a realm of cross-cultural pollination evolving from Officium, through that same collaboration's expanded vision on Mnemosyne (ECM, 1999) to John Potter's excellent Dowland Project outings: Care-Charming Sleep (ECM, 2001) and Romaria (ECM, 2006).

The focus of Siwan is not one of strict musical ...

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Jon Balke: Book of Velocities

Read "Book of Velocities" reviewed by Chris May

On paper, Norwegian pianist Jon Balke's first solo album reads like challenging stuff: a collection of eighteen short improvisations, grouped into five sub-sections (four “chapters" and an “epilogue"), and concerned as much with the velocities with which the piano's strings can be struck--and how they can be struck--as with thematic or harmonic development. Something for fellow pianists to marvel at and the general listener to struggle with.

In actuality, Book Of Velocities is an accessible and rewarding album, ...

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Jon Balke: Book Of Velocities

Read "Book Of Velocities" reviewed by Budd Kopman

As time goes on, the ECM label continues to stretch the meaning of the word jazz, allowing it to encompass almost any kind of music that allows for improvisation or sounds like it does. With Book Of Velocities, pianist/composer/band leader Jon Balke connects with various worlds: of the piano as a physical entity that can produce sound in many different ways; of the creative process as it feeds back on itself through time; of effecting control over ...


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