Palmetto Records (November 2015)

  • Mike Holober,  piano/composer/arranger 
  • Kate McGarry, vocal 
  • Marvin Stamm, trumpet 
  • Dick Oatts, alto sax 
  • Mark Patterson, trombone 
  • Jason Rigby, tenor sax 
  • John Hébert, bass 
  • Brian Blade, drums

Voted “Best of 2015” 

 Mark Sullivan’s “Best Releases of 2015,” All About Jazz, December 11, 2015 
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/mark-sullivans-best-releases-of-2015-by-mark-sullivan.php?width=2560 

Dan Bilawsky, “Dan Bilawsky’s Best Releases of 2015,” All About Jazz, December 10, 2015 
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/dan-bilawskys-best-releases-of-2015-by-dan-bilawsky.php 

Richard B. Kamins, “2015, a Year of Struggle & Success (Part 1), Step Tempest, December 15, 2015 
 http://steptempest.blogspot.com/2015/12/2015-year-of-struggle-success-part-1.html 

Peter Hun, “2015’s Jazz List Bliss,” Ottawa Citizen, December 24, 2015 
http://ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/music/jazzblog/2015s-jazz-list-bliss 

Thomas Cunniffe, “2015: The Summation,” Jazz History Online, n.d. 
http://www.jazzhistoryonline.com/Summation_2015.html

 Reviews

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

“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.”  
Dan Bilawsky, “Mike Holober: Balancing Act (2015), All About Jazz October 14, 2015  ****1/2 

“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.” 
Mark Sullivan, “Mike Holober: Balancing Act (2015),” All About Jazz, November 12, 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 . . . . ” 
Gary Walker, “Mike Holober: Balancing Act,” WBGO Radar, November 6, 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.” 
Mel Minter, “Mixed Bag: Flash Reviews of Harvey Valdes, Mike Holober, and Kristina Jacobsen,” Musically Speaking, November 4, 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.” 
Cormac Larkin, "Mike Holober - 'Balancing Act': finds equilibrium between the written and the improvised," Irish Times, November 26, 2015

“Judging from his stellar work with the WDR Big Band, HR Big Band, Gotham Jazz Orchestra and several other large ensembles, pianist-composer-arranger Mike Holober is well practiced in the art of weighing disparate musical parts to achieve a balanced whole. Now, with his first album as leader in six years, he applies those skills to an octet with dazzling results . . . . The group navigates an intertwining series of polarities: darkness and light, turbulence and tranquility, chaos and order, cacophony and calm, panic and serenity, joy and sorrow, hope and regret . . . . masterfully constructed holism.” 
Christopher Loudo, "Mike Holober:  Balancing Act," Jazz Times, March 14, 2016

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.” 
Richard B. Kamins, "Music of All Shapes and Colors," Step Tempest Blogspot, Nov 10 2015

"Mike Holober Achieves a Rare ‘Balancing Act’ with new Palmetto Release …elegant proceedings . . . . glorious arrangements . . . . a gorgeous swell of uplift . . . the octet moves and grooves with a panache usually reserved for commissioned works of art.” 
Mike Greenblatt, "Mike Holober Achieves a Rare 'Balancing Act' on New Palmetto Release," Classicalite Nov 9 2015

“ . . . 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.” 
Mel Mintner, Mixed Bag: Flash Reviews of Harvey Valdes, Mike Holober, and Kristina Jacobsen," Musically Speaking  Nov 4 2015

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

“Out of the richly atmospheric performances on this recording certain pieces emerge as almost cinematically graphic.  Raw emotions are couched in absolute gentility. . . . everywhere on this beautiful album the music is immediate and powerful. There is also psychological drama seemingly on an epic scale . . . the emotional nakedness and loving attention to detail recall the very best music that Holober has ever written.  The result is music that is audacious in its originality . . . . This is music at its most thrilling.” 
Raul de Gama, "Mike Holober:  Balancing Act," JazzdaGama Jan 31 2016