Balancing Act Press Reviews

cover-balancing-act-mVoted “Best of 2015”

 Mark Sullivan’s “Best Releases of 2015,” All About Jazz, December 11, 2015

Dan Bilawsky, “Dan Bilawsky’s Best Releases of 2015,” All About Jazz, December 10, 2015

Richard B. Kamins, “2015, a Year of Struggle & Success (Part 1), Step Tempest, December 15, 2015

Peter Hun, “2015’s Jazz List Bliss,” Ottawa Citizen, December 24, 2015 

Thomas Cunniffe, “2015: The Summation,” Jazz History Online, n.d.

Selected Quotes

 Carlo Wolf, DownBeat Magazine, February 2016, p. 74

“Pianist-composer-arranger Mike Holober presses seven of his closest associates into startlingly creative service on Balancing Act, an emotionally persuasive album . . . . an unusual and successful stylistic mesh . . . . both album and group are above all supple. And while the music appeals to the intellect, it’s also physical . . . . .” 

Dan Bilawsky, “Mike Holober: Balancing Act (2015), All About Jazz October 14, 2015
**** ½

Holober introduces a new band made up of longtime collaborators and reaffirms his power as a mover and shaker in small(er) settings. Holober’s guidance and multi-hued compositions allow this ensemble to speak, flow, and flourish as one. With Balancing Act, Holober has managed to apply his large artistic ambitions on a smaller-than-usual scale without compromising a single thing. It’s a work that speaks both to solidarity and individuality. A better name for such a band and album doesn’t exist.”

Mark Sullivan, “Mike Holober: Balancing Act (2015),” All About Jazz, November 12, 2015 **** ½

“It’s an ambitious project, but the music never shows it. The compositions and arrangements are wonderfully realized—full of joy and energy, regardless of their complexity.” 

 Gary Walker, “Mike Holober: Balancing Act,” WBGO Radar, November 6, 2015

“Whenever I’ve had the good fortune to encounter a performance from pianist/ composer/arranger Mike Holober, its always been an exciting, layer filled experience of sounds, colors, derangements of music I thought I knew, or something completely new, requiring a tip to the gods of musical good fortune for finding myself in a seat in the first place. Mike Holober can make still life move, make a great assembling of musicians greater. I witnessed this regularly for almost 10 years during his tenure as artistic director of the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, and through studio recordings from his Gotham Jazz Orchestra. Mike’s smaller group sessions touch, move, grab and hold just as powerfully . . . . “

Richard B. Kamins, “Music of All Shapes & Colors,” Step Tempest,” November 10, 2015

“Balancing Act” speaks to the challenges of modern life and is adult music of the highest quality.  Mike Holober does not speak down to his audience; instead, he respects the idea that the curious listener will enjoy the width and breadth of his project. The songs are intelligent, the arrangements impressive and the musicianship outstanding – find this music and take it into your heart.”

Mike Greenblatt, “Mike Holober Achieves a Rare ‘Balancing Act’ with new Palmetto Release [REVIEW],” Classicalite, November 19, 2015

“Pianist and composer Mike Holober does indeed achieve a Balancing Act on his new Palmetto Records release. The balance in question comes from creative use of Kate McGarry’s vocals, sprinkled throughout all eight tracks of these elegant proceedings as if it were but another instrument. . . . The CD plays as an extended suite with the vocals playing peek-a-boo before giving way to glorious arrangements of sophisticated jazz charts . . . . the octet moves and grooves with a panache usually reserved for commissioned works of art.”

Mel Minter, “Mixed Bag: Flash Reviews of Harvey Valdes, Mike Holober, and Kristina Jacobsen,” Musically Speaking, November 4, 2015

The performances throughout are top drawer, approaching the rhapsodic at several turns . . . . Holober’s fluid playing exhibits a refined sensitivity, and his comping on “Idris” delivers both structure and propulsion. He paints with sound, and he has deftly used the colors and textures these fine musicians provide to produce a satisfying collection of interior and exterior landscapes.” 

Cormac Larkin, “Mike Holober – ‘Balancing Act’: finds equilibrium between the written and the improvised,” Irish Times, November 26, 2015

He coaxes gorgeous section work from his horns (with McGarry often functioning as another section voice) and then offers thoughtfully through-written sections which allow his starry companions to have their say.”

Volkmar Mantel, “Mike Holober ‘Balancing Act’ (Palmetto Records 13.11.2015),” Ragazzi: Website for Ergended Music, n.d.
(In German)

Edited Translation – “Lyrically intimate jazz. The small cast is perfectly dovetailed, from the arrangements to the solo contributions it is expressive, lively and inspiring . . . . the Big Band arranger with this small cast presents this exquisite jewel, deeply lyrical and highly melodic . . . . it is much further still from everything mainstream…aesthetic clarity and artisanal finesse . . . agile, savvy…extraordinary and compelling.”


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