590

Robert Balzar Trio with John Abercrombie: Tales

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Robert Balzar Trio with John Abercrombie: Tales Releases teaming unknown musicians with high profile players can be inherently suspect. Everyone has to pay the rent, so it's always possible that such sessions are taken on for strictly financial reasons, with the playing as impeccable as ever but lacking in the commitment that turns a good date into a great one. Still, that's not always the case, and however John Abercrombie ended up on this date, from the first notes of Czech bassist Robert Balzar's Tales, it's clear that the guitarist is as invested in the music as Balzar's trio, also including pianist Stanislav Mácha and drummer Jiří Slavíček.

Co-produced by another Czech bassist with much higher visibility, Weather Report co-founder and ECM recording artist Miroslav Vitous, it's further evidence that vibrant jazz can be found in unexpected places. While a European impressionism imbues the date, so too are traditional markers that make Abercrombie—a forward-thinking player who nevertheless reveres what's come before—a perfect fit.

Three rarely covered Abercrombie tunes from across the guitarist's career are also inspired choices—the gently swinging "Just in Tune," from Open Land (ECM, 1999), the melancholy, rubato tone poem "Remember Hymn," from Getting There (ECM, 1988), and the lyrical waltz "Sing Song," taken at a brighter tempo than the original, first heard with Abercrombie's Gateway trio, featuring bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette, on Gateway 2 (ECM, 1978). More than the fact that much has changed in Abercrombie's own approach over the years; the piano-guitar-bass-drums line-up is one that Abercrombie rarely uses, making these versions harmonically richer than the originals.

Abercrombie's warm, occasionally slightly overdriven tone and melodically focused solos weave as seamlessly through the complex changes of Balzar's contrapuntal "Night," as they do the bassist's simmering, modal "Tale," helping to elevate this session beyond a mere guesting date. But Balzar's trio is on equal footing throughout, and while the bassist's own writing leans a tad more towards convention, there's plenty of challenge to make Tales a thoroughly modern mainstream set. Balzar possesses an earthy tone that rivals Abercrombie's, and a strong sense of construction that makes his solo on "Tale" an early highlight of the set, while Mácha and Slavíček demonstrate equal breadth on the ECM-like transparency of "Remember Hymn," the direct, backbeat-driven groove of "Portissimo" and the lighter in complexion but equally fiery "Black Cat White Dog."

Abercrombie is featured, but the strength of Balzar's trio ensures that he never dominates. Instead, it's a democratic session filled with surprise, elegance and invention that may have Abercrombie as its initial drawing card, but turns out to be even more rewarding for the discovery of three Czech musicians deserving of far greater exposure.



Promo by Google



Are you looking for a way to save money on auto insurance? We've taken the mystery out of this confusing subject by outlining 10 simple steps to saving money while getting the best coverage for yourself and your car. Welcome:
Auto Insurance


Track Listing: Tale; 22 Years Ago; Just in Tune; Remember Hymn; Portissimo; Sing Song; Black Cat White Dog; Night; I Fall in Love Too Easily.

Personnel: John Abercrombie: guitar; Robert Balzar: acoustic bass; Stanislav Mácha: piano; Jiří Slavíček: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Sony/BMG Czech Republic | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "In The Corner Of The Eye" CD/LP/Track Review In The Corner Of The Eye
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 10, 2016
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Real Talk" CD/LP/Track Review Real Talk
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 23, 2016
Read "Closer Than Before" CD/LP/Track Review Closer Than Before
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Honest Woman" CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!