Born: June 13, 1965
A native of Toronto, Canada, Andy Ballantyne began learning music in the Toronto public school system, studying clarinet and saxophone. He soon developed an interest in jazz and studied privately with Woody Herman alumnus Steve Lederer. Later teachers included Pat Labarbara, Alex Dean and Mike Murley. Exposure to recordings of the Stan Kenton Band, Nimmons and Nine Plus Six, and especially Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass fueled an early interest in composition and arranging. Andy went on to study arranging, orchestration and composition with Ron Collier at Humber College and Phil Nimmons at the University of Toronto...
Reedman/composer Andy Ballantyne has found plenty to work with deploying his A-list troops on The Sum of the Parts (Indie). He's written seven of the ten pieces here, and has made charts of substance for a group with four saxophones, two trumpets and two trombones, balanced by the thriving rhythm section of pianist David Braid, bassist Mike McClennan and drummer Daniel Barnes. Together they pull off the tricky feat of balancing improvisation with composition. Everyone solos, eight of them on the fascinating opener American Portrait, and the ensemble creates unusually rich blends throughout from the leader's crafted structures. Tracks to note include Spin, a pulsating The Big Dance, a flavourful The Fifth Beatle with trombonist William Carn and saxophonist Kelly Jefferson starring, and a laid-back The Phone Don't Ring Jack featuring growling trombone work from Rob Somerville. The boss saves Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now for himself and Braid, and it's delightful.
Geoff Chapman, Coda Magazine, March/April 2008
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