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Book of Velocities

Jon Balke

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Reseña de álbum

Simply put, there are no solo piano recordings like this one. Jon Balke, director of the Magnetic North Orchestra and Oslo 13, has never recorded a solo piano set before. It's quite remarkable when one thinks of his facility as both a composer and an improviser, and as a musician who can rely on the piano's original tenets as a percussion instrument quite strikingly — as he does as a member of the group Batagraf. Yet nothing could have prepared the listener for this gorgeous set of unedited, unprocessed, and undubbed piano pieces. Balke got the idea for this recording from his interest in photography. He'd take pictures from a moving car while listening to music and driving — without looking through the camera or at what he was photographing. He'd then take different pictures with his camera adjusted for better results. This work doesn't sound that wild, but involves a sense of planning (composition), action (development), reaction (invention), and moving forward (improvisation). The structure of this album consists of 18 pieces, divided into four chapters and a pair of epilogues. An idea would be sketched live, then developed upon once or twice or even three times, and then left for another — a book perhaps, made up of episodes but not necessarily a narrative. Balke astonishes the listener with his sense of using the entire instrument — in one piece he rubs the strings inside with one hand while playing a melody with the other. One or two lines are uttered in a melodic or harmonic frame and "further" narrated until the process exhausts itself or a new idea emerges. It is a restrained idea of working, but it is not restricted. It is a refining process from which something new always emerges. It is the story that begins but consistently moves and shifts, quickly since none of these pieces is more than 4:46 in length, with some as short as 56 seconds. Movement and the degree of force in creating sounds become structural ways of working by velocity. This is not mere academic playing, either. It is very minimal, but also very malleable; change is the order of the proceeding, so a quiet form of delight is given to the listener as the process of discovery unfolds over and over again. Highly recommended.


Nacido(a): 1955 en Furnes, Norway

Género: Jazz

Años de actividad: '00s

Norwegian pianist Jon Balke is an avant-garde-leaning musician with a bent toward mixing various stylistic influences, including contemporary jazz, post-bop, rock, folk, world, and classical. He released his debut album, On and On, in 1991. A year later he made his ECM debut with Nonsentration. A member of the Magnetic North Orchestra, Balke has also released several albums with the ensemble, including Kaynos in 2002 and Diverted Travels in 2004. In 2009, Balke paired up with a similarly inclined...
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Book of Velocities, Jon Balke
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