All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

590

Robert Balzar Trio with John Abercrombie: Tales

John Kelman By
Published:
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 For Jazz

Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Rediscovery
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
The First Quartet
The First Quartet
ECM Records
2015
buy
Five Years Later
Five Years Later
ECM Records
2014
buy
39 Steps
39 Steps
ECM Records
2013
buy
Within A Song
Within A Song
ECM Records
2012
buy
Wait Till You See Her
Wait Till You See Her
ECM Records
2009
buy
ECM Touchstones: Gateway
ECM Touchstones:...
ECM Records
2009
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Bill Frisell Bill Frisell
guitar
John Scofield John Scofield
guitar
Charlie Haden Charlie Haden
bass, acoustic
Jim Hall Jim Hall
guitar
Kenny Wheeler Kenny Wheeler
trumpet
Paul Motian Paul Motian
drums
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone

John Abercrombie Events

Date Event Time Tickets
Aug3Wed John Abercrombie Quartet
New Morning
Paris, France
21:00
€- 26.50€

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.