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Jazz - Released May 22, 2009 | ECM

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Contemporary Jazz - Released May 15, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released February 12, 2016 | ECM

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Jazz - Released November 3, 2017 | ECM

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In 2009, Jon Balke, who’s been a resident at the ECM label for several years, embarks on the Siwan adventure, an international collective created in order to make the boundaries between world music, classical music and jazz sway. Moroccan singer Amina Alaoui and American trumpet player Jon Hassell are then among its copilots… Eight years later, the Norwegian pianist revives this adventure by placing his exceptional instrumental forces at the service of a new voice, the one of Algerian singer Mona Boutchebak. With Siwan – Nahnou Houm, Balke and his musicians highlight the links between Arab music, Andalusian classical music and European baroque music that have ignited the sextagenarian Norwegian’s imagination when he started this project. To bring these sound scenes even closer, he set about putting into music Al Andalus’ poetry, reflecting an era of coexistence between the three great monotheistic religions. The strength as well as the singularity of Siwan is to never present itself as a historic project but on the contrary as a really contemporary swerve, delivered by an association of strong-minded musicians, putting their talents at the service of a singer deeply rooted in Arab traditional music. © CM/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released May 13, 2002 | ECM

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Jazz - Released October 23, 2007 | ECM

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Jazz - Released June 22, 2012 | ECM

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Contemporary Jazz - Released May 15, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released August 30, 2004 | ECM

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Jazz - Released February 1, 1992 | ECM

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Jazz - Released November 3, 2017 | ECM

In 2009, Jon Balke, who’s been a resident at the ECM label for several years, embarks on the Siwan adventure, an international collective created in order to make the boundaries between world music, classical music and jazz sway. Moroccan singer Amina Alaoui and American trumpet player Jon Hassell are then among its copilots… Eight years later, the Norwegian pianist revives this adventure by placing his exceptional instrumental forces at the service of a new voice, the one of Algerian singer Mona Boutchebak. With Siwan – Nahnou Houm, Balke and his musicians highlight the links between Arab music, Andalusian classical music and European baroque music that have ignited the sextagenarian Norwegian’s imagination when he started this project. To bring these sound scenes even closer, he set about putting into music Al Andalus’ poetry, reflecting an era of coexistence between the three great monotheistic religions. The strength as well as the singularity of Siwan is to never present itself as a historic project but on the contrary as a really contemporary swerve, delivered by an association of strong-minded musicians, putting their talents at the service of a singer deeply rooted in Arab traditional music. © CM/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released May 22, 2009 | ECM

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Jazz - Released October 21, 2011 | ECM

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Jazz - Released April 1, 1994 | ECM

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Jazz - Released February 12, 2016 | ECM

Jon Balke's musical life has been lived on the wide-open fringe of expression. He has utilized conventional Western European and Asian folk traditions, electronics, classical, jazz and avant-garde techniques, and various spoken, sung, and percussive languages. Given all of his previous experimentation, Warp is one of the most mysterious dates in his career. The vast majority of the 16 pieces here are miniatures, only one is over five minutes. Balke plays solo piano throughout, and accompanies himself by utilizing field recordings and other electronic sounds placed carefully in the backdrops and margins. It would seem this work is one piece initially -- you have to look at the inside sleeve to see the individual titles; but instead, this is a work of carefully sequenced individual works that present a labyrinth. "Heliolatry" opens in the piano's lower middle register with dark, brooding notes. A fluttery static and the scraping of strings inside the instrument lend a backdrop to a thematic flurry of notes and scales as they dialogue with one another. Static and what sounds like an organ pair with the wordless vocals of Wenche Losnegaard in "On and On," which ends with an open-ended question. "Bolide" possesses a hymn-like, folk song quality, while sparse processional chordal statements make up its corpus on either side of middle C. The all-too-brief "Shibboleth" employs somewhat angular improvisation, with field-recorded percussive sounds lining the frame. Balke actually slips into Lennie Tristano-esque scalar runs and then moves off center in a more speculative -- and dissonant -- direction. The indecipherable "announcement reading" of Balke's daughter Ellinor provides a sound sculpture for his plucked bass strings to bridge just the hint of a melody. It's followed by the genuinely haunting "Slow Spin," a jazz improvisation that is framed ever so faintly with droning electronic sounds. While "Kantor" asserts itself as a lithe, elliptical piano interlude, it is transformed by a mesh of field-recorded sounds and the voice of Mattis Myrland into a gorgeous art song. The album closes with a variation on "Heliolatry," then forgoes the inner instrument scraping for a more assertive dialogue with a synth imitating an organ. Balke's piano is assertive, creating a leitmotif from the more spectral dark notes in the first version. Warp is curious. Its quark strangeness may prove a tad unsettling early on, but settles into a quietly compelling invitation for the listener. The entire experience offers a different series of questions, answers, and conclusions each time it is encountered. The language Balke speaks is that of the piano as it encounters the inner resonances of its physical body, as well as those of the outer, indefinable tongues of sound itself. © Thom Jurek /TiVo