MP3 Robert Balzar Trio & John Abercrombie - Tales
World-renowned classically inspired instrumental jazz with double bass, piano, drums, and guitar
9 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Contemporary Jazz, JAZZ: Mainstream Jazz
The eagerly anticipated album by these very special jazz legends has finally arrived. Czech jazz legends The Robert Balzar Trio and jazz guitar legend John Abercrombie have combined for an album of inspired jazz that one critic called, "A superb outing by four extraordinary musicians.."
"TALES" - Robert Balzar Trio & John Abercrombie
by Bill Milkowski
On this enchanting collection of eight originals and one familiar jazz standard, the empathetic trio of Czech bassist-composer Robert Balzar, pianist Stanislav Macha and drummer Jiri Slavicek strikes an immediate chemistry with special guest guitarist John Abercrombie, one of the great improvisers in jazz today. Utilizing his signature fingerstyle approach to the guitar and generating an uncanny, warm-toned flow of notes cascading forth from his instrument, Abercrombie “blows” fluid, horn-like lines over these thoughtful, harmonically sophisticated and inherently swinging compositions with his usual understated flair. Though the guitarist does play an electric guitar and in fact incorporates just a touch of distortion in his six-string voice to give it a slight edgy quality, the overall effect is organic, effortless and beautiful. His brilliant playing throughout is supported by this uncommonly empathetic, highly interactive trio of top players on the Czech jazz scene.
Bassist and principal composer Balzar demonstrates a deep, woody tone along with impeccable time and a penchant for agile counterpoint, which is pronounced on his graceful opener, "Tale." Macha’s cascading piano solo here lifts the proceedings while Slavicek’s dynamic approach to the kit allows him to comment on the proceedings with a myriad of colors and textures. Balzar also turns in a remarkably lyrical and virtuosic bass solo on this evocative offering, further showing the depth of his musicality.
Balzar, Abercrombie, Slavicek, MachaBalzar’s pensive bossa nova flavored “22 Years Ago,” fueled by Slavicek’s brisk touch and hip accents on the kit, is a vehicle for some stunning legato excursions by Abercrombie. Macha responds in kind with an inspired piano solo and Slavicek is turned loose at the tag for a forceful solo of his own.
Abercrombie’s gently swinging “Just in Tune” again features a formidable bass solo by Balzar, who also walks forcefully beneath Macha’s surging, syncopated piano solo, leading to the guitarist’s high-flying extrapolation on the theme. Abercrombie’s calming, ECM-ish “Remember Hymn” showcases the guitarist in his most introspective mode. The piece unfolds gradually and gently, underscored by Slavicek’s rubato cymbal work and subtle use of mallets on the toms along with Balzar’s sprase, near subliminal bass lines. As it opens up, Abercrombie delves whole-heartedly into a probing solo filled with melodic ingenuity and daring.
Balzar, Miroslav Vitous, Slavicek, MachaBalzar’s “Portissimo” is an engaging melodic motif that gradually builds on top of Slavicek’s busy double-time pulse. Robert’s solo here is a fleet-fingered marvel reminiscent of the session’s producer, renowned Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous. Abercrombie’s “Sing Song” begins with a hush, underscored by Slavicek’s deft brushwork, and builds to a high-spirited romp paced by the swinging, interactive hookup between bass, drums and piano and invigorated by the adventurous guitarist’s freewheeling abandon. Balzar’s dynamic “Black Cat White Dog” cleverly incorporates both a Latin jazz son montuno and a blazing bop-fueled swing section in the same tune while his affecting “Night” features more deft brushwork from Slavicek and another extended and outstanding bass solo, followed by more free-spirited fretboard fireworks from Abercrombie. The collection closes on a poignant note with an achingly beautiful reading of the Sammy Cahn/Julie Styne standard “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” which has the four musicians striking a rare, zen-like accord.
A superb outing by four extraordinary musicians.
Bill Milkowski is a contributor of Jazz Times, Jazziz and Bass Player magazines in the United States.
He also contributes to Guitar Club (Italy) and Jazzthing (Germany) and is the author of
"JACO: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius" (Backbeat Books)
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