|Jon Ballantyne lays out when the others solo: he's at the post, enjoying the music and its live unfolding. When it's his turn to solo, he plays simply and sparingly: harmonic cells are jabbed into the flow here and there, as Ballantyne cooperates with and listens to the current of music. His soloing and his compositions are the poised and space-filled design of his mind.
Boris Koslov is such a beautiful warm-toned bass player. His fingers move as a totally flexible system. You can see he's solidly trained. Whether inter-communicating, or delivering one of his complex yet clear and lyrical solos, Koslov never failed to delight. He's a 'post-Scotty LaFaro' bass player meaning, he can play like a horn player and still keep time and play all the important notes.
This music was not fusion, nor world music with jazz, nor electronically-driven, nor mixed with hip-hop and dance beats. It was extremely satisfying acoustic jazz creative acoustic jazz.
But a short sample from the set list might help you better zone in on what the music 'sounded like.'
"Lennie's Pennies", by the late pianist Lennie Tristano. Tristano's challenging compositions (and his playing) are contemporaneous with Bird. Tristano is seen by some as one of the fathers of the avant-garde. He looked into different time tempos and different scales.
"Home" (based on "You'd be So Nice To Come Home To") was a medium tempo pleasure. We heard suggestions of the original melody, but this group was not merely quoting, they were extending re-composition and then playing on that.
"Scotch Neat" by Ballantyne, is a stop-and-start kind of tune, with recurring motifs and quiet rhythmic figures ('tick-tock-tick-tock') which become sparse background for the emerging solos.
"Anne's Dream", also by Ballantyne, is based on a slow arpeggio of 5 notes, recurring like a recurring dream. Think the ballads of Carla Bley.
The group did 'swing' a swing which approached the status of what Duke referred to as 'dynaflow' (Hirshfield was certainly responsible for a lot of this dynaflow. ) But it wasn't all toe-tapping swing. This was total body/mind wholistic swing.
On this evening, I felt so good and happy. My ears were cleaned out, and I was back to the first days when I heard jazz and really loved it.
That's what the "jon ballantyne 4tet" did for me.
They simply played their music.
( ... And yes, I did buy Jon Ballantyne's CD, "jon ballantyne 4tets + dewey redman"
[r.a.w. Real Artists Works 1001])