Strong words, but Indianapolis’ Charlie Ballantine could be one of the most intriguing artists to saunter from the jazz landscape in a good long time.
Despite the spot-on premiere of his “Strange Idea” video from our friends at JAZZ TIMES, Ballantine coludes with blues, rock, fusion and Americana strains tantamount to an aberrative space on the musical spectrum. Think Jack White/Wes Montgomery mind meld with lots of Dylan and The Beatles, John Scofield and Bill Frisell (among others) and the picture gets clearer.
His forthcoming album, Cold Coffee, set for a July 12th release, demonstrates a gift for diversity within the parameters of a truly distinctive and sophisticated sound. “Strange Idea,” the album’s kick off, is its compass, as well. Says Ballantine of the song, "'Strange Idea' was the first tune I wrote for this record and it felt like it came out of left field. It wasn’t like anything I had written before and it helped give shape and direction to what the album was going to be."
Ballantine’s beautiful and unique rendering of John Coltrane’s “My One And Only Love,” complete with throbs and rumbles from his adept rhythm section, Jesse Wittman (bass) and Chris Parker (drums) and his inspired claiming of Billie Holliday’s “East Of Sun” are perfect side-by-side with original tracks like the hypnotic, “Further” and the groovy “Zani,” just to name a few, but it’s the baroquish title track that best shows off Ballantine’s compositional prowess, arrangement skills and the trio’s unfaltering chops.
For Ballantine, it’s in the blood. His dad, Scott Ballantine, a noted blues player himself, brought Charlie up on a steady diet of sophisto guitarists from Jeff Beck to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Danny Gatton, Roy Buchanan, Guthrie Trapp Johnny Highland and even Jimi Hendrix. Ballantine spent much of his youth following his dad from club to club. “Being old enough to see my dad play a trio gig at a blues club when I was 15 or being able to sit in the back and watch him play, it was pretty awesome. It took me that long to appreciate that I was watching some really heavy musicians. It was contagious for me.”
As for recent history, Charlie released a full album, Where Is My Mind?, in the fall of 2017 its namesake, a Pixies song covered on the record, and reviewed by ALL ABOUT JAZZ as “... an album that blends spontaneity with meticulous post-production, and shows little regard for stylistic categories: jazz, rock and folk music peacefully coexist in Charlie Ballantine's world.” Life Is Brief: The Music of Bob Dylan followed quickly in the spring of 2018 that featured 12 brilliant renditions of the great bard’s music and inspired local Indy paper, NUVO to proclaim, “Life is Brief is Ballantine’s fourth full length release, and his strongest musical statement thus far.”
“There’s this sound I hear in my head, I get really close, but I can never quite attain it. It's hard to say, it’s hard to verbalize, but it's a pretty fun time to be a guitar a young guitar player right now.”
For those lucky enough to be in the following markets, will get a chance to see Charlie Ballantine live over the next month or so…
CONFIRMED TOUR DATES:
Jun 07, 2019 - Cafe Coda (Madison, WI)
Jun 08, 2019 - NOCE (Des Moines, IA)
Jun 14, 2019 - Chatterbox (Indianapolis, IN)
Jun 15, 2019 - Cliff Bell's (Detroit, MI)
Jun 16, 2019 - Phog Lounge (Windsor, ON)
Jun 21-23 2019 - Elkhart Jazz Festival
Jun 27, 2019 - Jimmy Can't Dance (Louisville, KY)