Book of Ve­loc­i­ties ECM

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music Reviews - RAY COMISKEY

There’s a Ja­panese wa­ter­colour tech­nique of paint­ing on thin, tightly stretched pa­per that puts a pre­mium on speed and del­i­cacy of thought and ac­tion; oth­er­wise the pa­per will break. For his first solo CD – a big change for some­one who works on much broader can­vases – Jon Balke takes the same seizethe-mo­ment idea and, fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing, ap­plies it to the pi­ano. Over four “chap­ters” and an epi­logue, he finds a se­ries of ideas and de­vel­ops them within each sec­tion, us­ing both ortho­dox and un­ortho­dox tech­niques to push the bound­aries for im­pro­vi­sa­tion. He also ex­plores the pi­ano’s sound, not only within the ac­cepted pa­ram­e­ters of use, but also, in ef­fect, as a per­cus­sion in­stru­ment and as a harp. The re­sult is a se­ries of snapshots, which, though un­even and closer to con­tem­po­rary classical mu­sic than jazz, re­tain an oddly com­pelling hold. www. mu­s­ic­connec­

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