FAME Review: Andrea Balestra - Painting on Silence
Andrea Balestra - Painting on Silence

Painting on Silence

Andrea Balestra

For availability, check Andrea Balestra's
web site
after Sept. 24, 2013

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Don't be fooled by the meditative intro and closing outro to Andrea Balestra's Painting on Silence nor by the New Agey cover art, as, once the mellifluous opening shot's fired, things get fusion swing and fusion crunchy, with a ballad or two (the title cut especially), no small part of which is creditable not only to Balestra's fine axwork (reviewed earlier here) but also his choice of guests: SoCal enfante-terrible Carl Verheyen (and, yo, world, L.A. has a lot more great unknowns and semi-knowns—James Musser, Mark Fitchett, Barry Levenson, etc.—flanking Carl and cats like Walter Trout), the long-esteemed John Pisano (last I caught him, long ago at Two Dollar Bill's in Venice, he was Angeleno as well), and then Scott Henderson (Tribal Tech), and others. Sort of a guitar orgy…but refined, not the stratospheric McLaughlin/DiMeola/DeLucia kinda gig.

Dark White Skies, with Julien Kasper, is a trip back to the day when Ronnie Montrose went solo in that highly overlooked but delicious solo slab Open Fire, both fretbenders here choosing lyricality over flash and speedstering in the kind of song that isn't composed much any more, more's the pity, the tune being a poem, not a burndown. That gives way to Bulldozer, with Henderson, and a very bluesy approach containing plenty of sharp-edged definition but also a slice of that earlier Montrose narrative mixed with Frank Marino and a skosh of Jeff Beck. The take on Monk's Round Midnight continues those shadings, a Blow by Blow-ish approach rather than what was wrought in Andy Summers' highly impressive disc (Green Chimneys, the best thing he's ever done).

The CD's title is taken from a wryly authoritarian Leopold Stokowski quote ("A painter paints his pictures on canvas, but musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence"), but I thought I might add that ol' Leo, superstar that he rightly may have been as a conductor, was not a writer…except in that he stole freely from well-known works in adaptation and "transcription"; thus, I'm not so sure how deeply that "we" in his quote applies to him (it is, after all, a first-person pronoun, no?). It certainly fits the gents here, though, Balestra in his trio and the sessioneers, and I probably should point out, in further taking a little stab at The Stoke, that classical musicians are almost always very far from being true creators, vastly more slavish than any other mode in music, so much so that I'm not entirely sure Leo knew quite what he was talking about, wading into the shallow end of the experiential pool in that regard. Would he have liked Balestra's work? I very much doubt it, but Balestra and most really good jazzers and rockers know one hell of a lot more about composition than Leo ever ventured to grasp outside monomanically cloistered staves, and I'm undecided whether Andrea cited Stoke's thought as poignant for its underlying truth, it's conservatively hey-shut-up! underpinnings, or both. Hardly matters, the music's the point, but I like to goad the classical world whenever I can, especially as it frowns disdainfully at groups of equals it considers its inferiors. À votre santé, y'all!

Track List:

  • Prelude - Paulo's Guitar
  • Come Together (Lennon / McCartney)
  • Anubis
  • Dark White Skies
  • Bulldozer
  • Cafe Rojo
  • Painting on Silence
  • Round Midnight (Thelonius Monk)
  • Coda - California Suite
All songs written by Andrea Balestra except as noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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