CD ”Sonateskas”

Thorsten Meyer
Jazzpodium, October 1999 (Germany)

 The crossing of frontiers, geographical as well as musical, determines the life and music of pianist JMB.  His search for new sound dimensions on the solo piano has brought the Spaniard via Switzerland, Mexico and Paris in the last years to Germany.  His music is not for labelling. His record company suggests "New Contemporary Music", Contemporary it certainly is, but that is not the whole story.
Balany├á weaves a close-knit web of classical, modern, jazz, folk.  He probes the piano's richness of sound and interpretative possibilities and tries to extend the sound possibilities into new dimensions.  He doesn't go the path of Cage with a prepared piano, but tries to entice the sounds from the instrument in a natural way. The piano is, in this way, not a tool but a partner. In 1994 he released the inexcusably overlooked CD "Elements of Development", which marked the direction of Balany├á's path, and also the CD "Sonateskas" consists of six pieces of complex and modern sound constructions.
The pianist's hands in the works hold conversations filled with nuances.  There are monologues in which single lines are unfolded, but there are also dialogues. Just as in real life, the conversations have various ground feelings, There is the cultivated conversation. In this case, Balany├á creates transparent and yet musically complex atonal structures. More frequently, however, are the confusion of voices and the arguments. Here cluster tones and racing atonal melody lines thunder down on the listener.  There is talking past one another, when Balany├á alludes to the motifs and develops them further in completely isolated areas which only hint at the origin.
The works are interpreted with dexterity and virtuosity.  The listener is presented with a special listening experience.  One must give the works time, however.  Some pieces first become clear with the background information given in the booklet, e.g. Balany├á's putting to music of his poem "Y cuando oigas el agua caer..." (”And when you hear the water fall...").

Jazzthing, September 1999 (Germany)

Sometime in the 1980s, the Spanish born pianist JMB gave lectures on the Mexican radio and in universities about "ecological jazz".  "Sonateskas", his second solo piano recording released in Germany is, if you will, a progression from this project. lt seems, at times, that one hears in these sonatas a whole herd of ants hurrying over the keys, and then a waterfall driving its way over the instrument with sound cascades.  The piano is for Balany├á a laboratory for experimental arrangements.
He experiments in strict constructivism with metres and interval structures; he consciously uses pauses as a structural device.  In ”Good Work for Bad Pianos” (created on a well-preserved Alpina typewriter from the 1950s and a mutilated piano), the letter - and piano keys make the semantic dance-, in ”Sonatesca Gutural” something like a persiflage of Keith Jarrett's moans of concentration waft over the ivories.  Economic, ecological.- a must for all the ecumenicist of New Music.