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Robert Balzar bass
Stanislav Macha piano
Marek Patrman drums

The Patriot
Thanks to Isidor
The Patriot
Thanks to Isidor
Willy Nilly
For Your Sound

Total Time 48.54

Er gehört zweifelsohne zu den versiertesten jungen Bassisten der tschechischen Republik. Seit langem ist der vierunddreißigjährige Instrumentalist die erste Wahl für führende tschechische Jazzmusiker und auch "Westler" wie Benny Bailey, Joe Newman oder David Friedman wußten sein Talent wiederholt zu schätzen.

Als im Januar 1994 Bill Clinton im Reduta-Jazzclub sein ihm von Vaclav Havel geschenktes Tenorsax blies, war Robert Balzar "ebenso wie Pianist Stanislav Macha" ein Mitglied des Begleitquartetts. Nach zahllosen Tourneen und Festivalauftritten durch und in Europa und den USA legt Robert Balzar nun mit Pianist Stanislav Macha und Schlagzeuger Marek Patrman die erste CD unter eigenem Namen vor. Ein kompaktes und gehaltvolles Spiel zeichnet das Trio aus. Der Leader überzeugt zudem als versierter Komponist, verarbeitet Tradition und Erfahrungen zu einer ansprechenden Variante im Genre des klassischen Trio-Jazz. Mainstream, Modern und lyrische Momente finden in einer intensiven Verschmelzung zu einem qualitativ hochangesiedelten musikalischen Resultat.
Thomas Tang, Jazzpodium 2/1999

Bassist Robert Balzar is the first call bassist for foreigners visiting the Czech Republic. The list of those he's accompanied is long and impressive and includes most notoriously "The Press" - Bill Clinton.

On Travelling, Balzar emphasizes his own composition, as much as his bass playing. The opener, "The Patriot", sounds like a reworking of a Broadway tune. Elsewhere he touches on straight ahead bop - "Isidor" and "Wintertime" and "Willy Nilly" - contrasting shades of blues. "For Your Sound"is an out-of-tempo "Travelling", "B.E." - all owe an obvious debt to the compositions noteworthy, and fertile ground for improvisation.

The trio uses the Evans ensemble as a model, appropriate for a group led by a bass player. Though never as complex as Scott LaFaro's work with Evans. Balzar does emphasize melodic counterpoint, often in the lower register. His solos, which emphasize melody over flash, emerge as natural outgrowths of his lines in support of pianist Macha. For his part, Macha's long clean lyrical lines demonstrate an Evans-influence, though not consumed by it. Drummer Patrmann provides colorful support without ever being intrusive.

Balzar's group shows evidence of the benefits of a working ensemble. Those who enjoy piano trios should check this out'.
David Dupont, Cadence 9/1998

Robert Balzar may be in the Czech Republic, but his music has traveled far. This album comes endorse by George Mraz, he’s playe with Joe Newman and Tony Scott; he and pianist Stanislav Macha even played with Bill Clinton on his 1994 albumThe Pres Blows. This is his first as a leader, and it shows beautiful solos and a solid trio. You can go far from your own backyard. The Patriot is a bouncy theme, based on Fried Bananas. Marek Patrman has heavy brushes and uses well the studio echo. Macha uses chords on the theme and spaces out on the the solom developing little themes and varying them endlessly as the drums pound harder. Balzar’s solo states theme and varies as Macha did – only faster! His style is halfway between modern slide and old-fashioned walkin’, and he does both here. Wait for Macha’s signoff –it’s lush, and very charming. Ginetta is a slow ballad with more of thse bright chords. For thirty seconds it’s piano and bass, and Balzar keeps time with a LaFaro sound – old and new together. The brushes come in, and the shimmer is delightful. When Balzar solos it’s piano and bass again: Macha steps lightly behind Robert’s big sound, all bounce and slide. The tenderness returns and so do the drums in a very warm finish. It’s a basic ballad, but the performance isn’t! Balzar gets the theme to Thanks to Isidor – the fast tempo is no problem for him. It’s a bop line with progressively deepening blues. Macha chords sour a while, then gets lush, with the tinest hint of Red Garland. Balzar is strictly old school, and it works like a charm. When he goes high, it’s not like a modern bassist, but Oscar Pettiford playing the cello! Patrman has a cymbal solo – well, that’s what it sounds like! It’s simple, tough, and bluesy – I like it. Travelling starts like a Bill Evans waltz: tempo lagging, medi tation on certain notes. Balzar’s tiny first solo has a debt to LaFaro, as you’d expect. Then it goes active: Balzar finds a great walking line, Macha jabbing the keys with a rhythmic feel. The theme returns with more vigor, and Macha is romantic, dancing gracefully over the splashy drums. The tough theme comes back while Macha waltzes; it makes him sound more beautiful. Near the end he blossoms again: McCoy Tyner for four thrilling bars. Balzar’s second solo, done mostly to the tough theme, is all string snaps and low rumbles; his first bit was better. It leads to Patrman’s solo, which includes everything but boredom. Then the waltz returns, and we have gone a long way. Wintertime is a stroll in the park; Macha has a old strut while Balzar walks deep. His solo gets a few slides, but mostly it’s the good old feel – and it feels right. B.E. is leisurely, introspective, and dedicated to the possessor of the initials. As Macha hinted at Evans earlier, the task is a snap for him; there’s also a spot of blue and a few Garland chords. Balzar’s solo is out of the Trio’s playbook, and Macha chords nicely behind him. Willy Nilly starts with great brushes and a unison theme by piano and bow. Balzar’s tone is mostly classical, with a trace of the Paul Chambers grainy sound. He has fun with the boppish line, bowing it fast and drawling a little. He then plucks up a walk for Macha’s gentility. No contest; this was Robert’s from the beginning. There’s also For Your Sound, nearly two minutes of unaccompanied Balzar. It’s deep musing, full of technique and grace. That’s how I describe the album – that and warmth, variety, and charm. John Barrett Jr.

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