Monday, June 23, 2014

Jazz Fest 2014, Day 3: Jake reviews the Jon Ballantyne Trio

Posted By on Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 4:00 AM

It took a little time for the Jon Ballantyne Trio to grow on me. And even then, I didn't leave Xerox Auditorium impressed.

It is absolutely clear that pianist Jon Ballantyne, drummer Adam Nussbaum, and bassist Evan Gregor are talented musicians and in certain moments they worked well together. But that's what makes the trio's Sunday early show confusing. It mostly felt uninspired, and those moments of musical gems -- when the trio felt in a groove and communicated well -- were far between.

Individually, each player had their shining moments -- Ballantyne and Nussbaum, especially, brought some interesting ideas and techniques -- but it seemed like they were rarely playing off of one another and pushing the boundaries as a trio. The music wasn't unpleasant, but it felt stale and inflexible.

It wasn't until the group's third song, "Ballad 4: Thank Jones," when the members slowed things down -- giving the piece some breathing room, and showing a little restraint -- did they start to click with one another.

Maybe the trio just needed to warm up.

Monday night, I'm really looking forward to seeing Matt Andersen live, 8:30 p.m., at the Unity Health System Big Tent. The singer-songwriter's deep voice and stories of blue-collar heartache have found a regular home on my iPod.

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