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Guitarist/Composer Charlie Ballantine Draws Inspiration From Kurt Vonnegut on Disquieting, Resonant Sextet Album; JAZZIZ Premieres First Single
(Published: August 06, 2020)

Guitarist/Composer Charlie Ballantine Draws Inspiration From Kurt Vonnegut on Disquieting, Resonant Sextet Album

Conveying Drama, Narrative Threads and Emotional Depth Without Vocals, Ballantine Finds the Balance Between the Soulful and the Literate
JAZZIZ Premieres First Single

"I really wanted to do my best to capture the voice of Kurt Vonnegut in a musical sense and just as each novel had a different overall feel, the music had to change composition to composition"

On his upcoming sextet album ‘Vonnegut', Indianapolis-based guitarist/composer Charlie Ballantine conveys a sense of drama, distinct narrative threads and emotional depth, as he crafts an often disquieting, consistently resonant and thoughtful artistic tribute to seminal author Kurt Vonnegut. Song titles such as ‘Sympathy For Malachi Constant', ‘Kilgore in Timequake,' ‘Eloise Metzger' and ‘Mind Of Dwayne Hoover' let the listener know they're in for a richly eclectic ride, as jazz/rock/folk artist Ballantine channels characters and themes from Vonnegut's novels into his compositions. Finding the balance between the soulful and the literate, Ballantine and his sextet create a vibe that speaks volumes, without vocals.

Ballantine and his band (which includes acclaimed saxophonist Rob Dixon of Charlie Hunter and Headhunters fame,) made an in-studio video for the album's first single "Sympathy For Malachi Constant".

Jazziz Magazine Exclusive Premiered the track, here:

JAZZIZ - New Music Monday - 8/3/20, By Matt Micucci: https://www.jazziz.com/new-music-monday-idris-ackamoor-the-pyramids-david-garfield-more/

Direct video link to get a sense of the project, out late September: https://youtu.be/xAVSAYA39js

Ballantine shared these thoughts on the genesis of ‘Vonnegut':
"Kurt Vonnegut has always been an inspiration to me long before I decided to do this project. Ever since I first read "Slaughter-House Five" in high school I have always felt a deep connection to his voice and personality. I think the connection can be attributed largely to the fact that we are both from Indianapolis, a city he mentions in almost every novel, and therefore share a similar sense of Midwestern cynicism and love of dark humor. It was when I was rereading "Sirens of Titan" for the first time since college that I decided to write a piece of music dedicated to the main character Malachi Constant. It's a story about a man who makes nothing but bad decisions his whole life only to find out at the end of his life that free will never truly existed and he never had any control over his actions. It moved me to write the first piece on the album "Sympathy for Malachi Constant" which started the whole process. Every couple of weeks I read a novel and then tried to immediately compose a piece of music that truly reflected what I was feeling in regard to the characters and themes in these stories. I really wanted to do my best to capture the voice of Kurt Vonnegut in a musical sense and just as each novel had a different overall feel, the music had to change composition to composition."

From the subtly unsettling album highlight ‘Eloise Metzger' to the distinctive vibe of ‘Unk', from focus track (and first single) ‘Sympathy For Malachi Constant' to the appropriately-toned coda, ‘So It Goes', ‘Vonnegut' is a rich collection and shows Ballantine to be an artist with a POV that is both expansive and entertaining.

The ‘Vonnegut' band was made up of Indianapolis musicians Rob Dixon on tenor and soprano saxophone (solos track 3,5,6,) Amanda Gardier on Alto sax and Bass Clarinet (solos track 1,2,5,8,) Charlie Ballantine on Guitar, Jesse Wittman on Bass, Mina Keohane on Piano, Cassius Goens on Drums and Rob Funkhouser, Music Box on track 3. ‘Vonnegut' was recorded at Postal Recording Indianapolis IN. It will be released in late September on Green Mind Records.

In recent years, press coverage of Ballantine in outlets ranging from Vintage Guitar Magazine to Jazziz to All About Jazz to his hometown Indianapolis Star has praised the impressive young guitarist/composer. Here are samplings of prior write-ups:

"His guitar work is both beautiful and complex"
"Befitting a guitarist from America's heartland, Charlie Ballantine mixes jazz, folk-rock, surf/instro, blues, pop, and country into a simmering pot of guitar sound and style. His instrumental work is beautiful and complex, ranging from melodic journeys to raging heavier sounds." Vintage Guitar Magazine

"Teeming with intricate grooves and maniacal precision"
"In the vein of fellow guitarists like John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Julian Lage, Ballantine reconciles his educational background in jazz with the stylistic background of his instrument. He approaches the gratifying tonal and harmonic language of rock/roots with the groove, ambition and improvisational focus of a jazz musician...." "The guitarist's solos, both patient and cavalier, capitalize on the earnest warmth within progressions that are more inviting than they are demanding." Jazziz

"Jazz, rock, and folk music peacefully coexist in...Ballantine's world"
"Indianapolis-born jazz guitarist/composer Charlie Ballantine has a special relationship with American music of all kinds: jazz, folk, the blues (his father was a blues guitarist, providing some of Ballantine's earliest musical memories) and contemporary rock." All About Jazz

"Ballantine shows mastery across the board: comfortable and relaxed ... measured and meditative ... muscular and gnarled." Indianapolis Star

More about Charlie Ballantine:
Website biography excerpt below. Full bio here: https://www.charlieballantine.com/bio

Born in the American heartland of Indianapolis, Indiana, Ballantine's quicksilver guitar is all Fender Telecaster flux and flow, Deluxe Reverb danger and drive. Ballantine has two current releases: Life Is Brief: The Music of Bob Dylan and Where Is My Mind?, with two albums prior, all drawing from music and experiences documented long before he was born. Son of a blues guitarist who frequented "Indy's" club circuit in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Ballantine has inherited the sound of the wind roaring across the plains, the desert heat of Route 66 and the lush colors of the Appalachian mountains. Balllantine's guitar is spectral and haunting, his music an evolving tale of a young journeyman with big ears.
"I've always been attracted to the guys on the outskirts," Ballantine says from Indianapolis. "Like John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Jeff Beck; you can call the first two jazz, but a purist might disagree. And I like using distortion and delay and [different] vocabulary, not necessarily playing straight bebop. That's what's I've always loved, guys who are unique in their approach and who have their own voice."
Ballantine's guitar sound and musical concept is majestic, sometimes as blinding as a setting sun yet hinting at the unknown, a dark Americana whose remnants remain if you know where to look. That Ballantine is exploring singular music is a given. Growing up in a musical household, Ballantine was exposed early on to the pop greats, but also the sounds of jazz, blues, pop and rock.
"My parents were born in the 50s," Ballantine explains. "So I grew up kind of listening to the Beatles, Beach Boys, the Band. I have Sergeant Pepper on one shoulder and Wes Montgomery on the other shoulder, and Hendrix too. So I have all these things, these influences I'm trying to make sense of and give a sense of continuity."

D'addario Sponsored Guitarist
Professor of Guitar at the University of Indianapolis
Professor of Guitar at Marian University

EPK: https://www.charlieballantine.com/epk


More Information: http://https://www.charlieballantine.com

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