Rick Balestra CD CDs
discography biography Syracuse NY
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Rick Balestra of Spaces Band Biography -
|"From the Shore," Rick Balestra's first CD, is
the result of his long-standing passion for jazz guitar. A mix of
five original tunes, plus Rick's interpretation of such jazz
standards as "My Foolish Heart" and "You the Night and the Music,"
the CD showcases Rick's professionalism, originality and
Rick has devoted his life to the study, instruction and performance of music. He earned a bachelor's degree in music education at Syracuse University and a master's degree in classical guitar performance at Ithaca College. He shares his knowledge, talent and expertise with students at the State University of New York / SUNY Oswego College, where he is an adjunct professor of jazz and classical guitar, and as an adjunct professor of jazz guitar at Hamilton College and Colgate University.
Highlights of his performance career include appearances at the Syracuse Jazz Festival, Oswego Harborfest, Glenora Wine Cellars Jazz Series, and the Rochester Cornhill Arts Festival. Rick is the originator, organizer and driving force behind the Jazz Guitar Festival held at SUNY Oswego annually and he performs there with his group, "Spaces." The festival has attracted such internationally known artists as Gene Bertoncini, Peter Leitch, Club Django, and John Ambercrombie. Rick also had a featured spot as a soloist with the Syracuse Symphony Pops Orchestra. His guitar virtuosity and creativity have been much in demand by many of Central New York's finest musicians for studio work.
It's timely, it's tasteful, it's technically awesome but most importantly, it's great music! "From the Shore": Probably the best "live feel in the studio" CD ever recorded. As Guitarist / Composer / Producer / Teacher Rick Balestra states in the "liner notes": The recording process used for this session ... the musicians played live and recorded anywhere from one to three takes of each tune, and then Rick Montalbano and I chose the best overall performance.... - Very effective approach to the recording process, to say the very least. The tracks on this CD sit the listener right in the middle of the "live" ensemble - and what an ensemble it is! Leader and master musician Rick Belestra besides having massive "technical chops" also has a gift - impossible to describe, however it's clear, from the very first note that Rick's concept of tone is amazing - as and when needed it is sweet or has a bite, aggressive or passive, dark, airy, fun, silly and serious. Just the sound of his instrument is enough to stir the emotions. But that's only the beginning - as any talented pro musician will tell you, it's not about the notes, it's about when you play them. Without a doubt the wonderful treatments given to each track concerning form, concepts, instrumentation and interpretation are unbelievably outstanding - all due to Rick's leadership. However, Rick Belestra is not alone - the rest of the ensemble is very special - and they deliver outstanding performances. Rick Montalbano shines - well, more like explodes - on acoustic piano, digital piano the classic Hammond B3 organ - what a wonderful instrument - and Rick Montalbano utilizes it to the max! Geoff Kraly, Bass - provides much more than a foundation (though he does that extraordinarily well) - his 'shaping' of bass lines and subtle inflections tastefully enhance each of the tracks on which he appears. Brendan Van Epps, Tenor Sax - gives just the right color to the ensemble and very inspired solos (track 2 "Spot the Monkey" being one fine example). Ron Glick, Drums - right on target! Ron appears on all tracks except "Another Chance" and gracefully moves from each musical and recording "environment" to the next with amazing skill. Larry Belestra, Percussion - Rick Belestra has a brother, but Larry is much more than that; Larry is a valuable musical asset. Larry's incredible sense - knowing just 'what is needed and when' is phenomenal. Larry not only "creates colors in the right places" but he also transforms performances that would be "really good" into "unbelievably outstanding". Without any doubt, Larry's contribution to "From the Shore" makes this a great CD. I'll spare you my "track by track" and "note by note" comments for now - I don't want to delay your purchase of "From the Shore". Don't wait, buy it now! Purchasing this CD may well be one of the most important things you will ever do for yourself!
- Dave Myers
World class guitar work. Tasteful guitar playing is reminiscent of early Kenny Burrell. I love how Rick engineered the session. Not over produced...nicely done. Ronny Glick just perfect amount of finesse, his dues come through on this recording. Brendan's sound and articulation brings another dimension to this, project. No greater love is flawless from beginning to end. Mo Fiddley...love that percussionist. Boy do you run the gamut! I think if hard pressed "Another Chance" is my favorite cut. It took me to another place.
- Tony Corbiscello, Tony Corbiscello's Big Band
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