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ALBUM REVIEWS

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

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 ...


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