Dirk Balthaus

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Reviews of Dirk Balthaus


15/10/2008 Frank Huser/Jazzflits

‘Juzz Flirtin’ is the exceptionally listenable result of a rendezvous between vocalist Léah Kline and pianist/composer Dirk Balthaus. A meeting that caused musical sparks. Her lyrics inspired his music and vice versa. It’s obvious to hear that the American Léah Kline, who lives in the Netherlands since 2000, has her roots in the theater (singing, dancing and cabaret). Her narrating qualities are impressive and inviting. The playing of the band (Dirk Balthaus piano, Cord Heineking doublebass, Sebastiaan Kaptein drums and Yuchi Cordoba percussion) perfectly supports this. Even in the musical accompaniment the “story telling” is emphasized. Ingenious arrangements, intentionally intense intermezzos and playful solos give the numbers extra cachet and support the lyrics in an all round excellent manner. Kline is a vocalist of scale. Out of many examples, the vulnerably sung “Minuano’ (music Pat Metheny, lyrics Kurt Elling), is proof of this fact. She possesses a good diction, a beautiful alto timbre, feel for dynamics and timing plus an excellent technique. The Cd consists of numbers in up-tempo and swing but also ballads and jazzy arranged, more or less theatrically colored titles with funk and Latin influences. A not to miss flirt! (Frank Huser)


15/10/2008 Frank Huser/Jazzflits

Rays of sunshine, shining in from the Nieuwmarkt through a crack in the door into the twilight zone at the back of the café, reach regulars whispering about the good old days. The un-expecting stranger tastes the aroma of past times. Photos of musicians on the wall act as silent witnesses to distant stories. In the corner of this bar a quartet can be found playing. Jazz. On ‘Amsterdam Jam’ you can smell the odor of this famous Amsterdam establishment - The Cotton Club. Famous for its history, its guests, its owners and last but not least its musicians. The trio Dirk Balthaus (piano), Anton Drukker (double bass) and Dick Verbeeck (drums) are joined in turns by the tenor-saxophonists Dick de Graaf, Guus Crommelin, Efraïm Trujillo en Jorg Kaaij on tenor- and soprano sax. The repertoire? Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker and Billy Strayhorn. And Trujillo and Kaaij each with an own composition. Maybe in first place a compliment to Dirk Balthaus and Joep Lumeij who are responsible for the recording technique. They managed to make this studio recording sound like a live recording reminiscing the intimate sound of the Amsterdam Cotton Club where every Saturday afternoon, jazz music can be heard. Close your eyes and you will be transported into this infamous bar where your hands will be itching to applause each solo. The playing? Swing, up-tempo, ballades, a bit of Latin. Saxes that sound fat, rough and melancholic, which are driven by the swing and the rhythm of the trio. ‘Amsterdam Jam’ is jazz like jazz is life itself. Marked by improvisations, a mix of styles, moving accents, changing rhythms and swing. ‘Amsterdam Jam’ is a tribute to jazz. A formidable CD, featuring excellent musicians. A compliment to Dutch jazz! On Saturday 23rd June, this CD will be presented. Where else but in the Nieuwmarkt! (Frank Huser)


15/03/2008 Frank Huser/Jazzflits

Dirk Balthaus (piano), Joep Lumeij (double bass / guitar) and Inigo Grimbergen (drums) took up the challenge to record again fourteen of George Gershwin’s well-known standards (1898-1937). It takes courage to interpret such well-known material with the pretension of producing a listenable album. Particularly in the classical trio setting you will fail miserably if you don’t have something special to tell. However, the cd, simply entitled ‘Gershwin’ is an excellent album. It is, of course, the richness of Gershwin’s compositions that makes listening such a pleasure.
The album contains fourteen interpretations where choices have been made, arrangements compiled and accents placed. The listener will be impressed by this trio’s lectures. The title could have been ‘Gershwin reinvented’ as this is jazz of the highest level, both inventive and creative. It is new discovery for Gershwin, who is generally recognised as a classical composer. Here he is seen in the light of impressive jazz.
The team playing between the trio is remarkable. While Balthaus clearly leads the melody line, the accompanists Lumeij and Grimbergen create the space. A perfect combination, making you think of Ahmad Jamal, Monk and Bill Evans. The cd finishes with a version of Gershwin’s classical composition ‘Prelude #2’, a duet by Balthaus and Lumeij on guitar. ‘Gershwin’ has become a fascinating story.


10/04/2005 NOZ, Germany

This music contains everything: short, lyrical moments, driving urban grooves; south-american influences that spread warmth on that grey April day, and a continously vibrating pulse that drives the music forward. The Rob Armus/Dirk Balthaus Quartet plays hot music for a cold day.


01/05/2004 Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany

Benny Baily and Dirk Balthaus at the Jazzkarussell: the communication between Baily and Balthaus works. Balthaus has fun when he's playing, you can see that. With a smile he comps Baily, carefully, with a remarkable lightness.


01/10/1999 Oldenburger Volkszeitung, Germany

With fine compositions and an energetic drive the Dirk Balthaus sextet stimulates the audience.


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