Next Tuesday, March 5th, the CWU Jazz Program will present Dan Balmer with the CWU Jazz Combos. Dan Balmer is no stranger to Ellensburg, having performed numerous times over the years at Jazz In The Valley, both as a solo act and as guitarist with the Mel Brown B3 Quartet. He's also been in town to present clinics to the CWU students while in the area for performances at The Seasons in Yakima.
Dan Balmer has long been considered one of the finest guitarists, composers, and educators in the Northwest. In 2009 Dan became one of only five Oregonians to be honored with membership in both The Oregon Music Hall of Fame and the Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame. He is the youngest person to be included in both Halls, and is hailed by the Los Angeles Times as, “the model of what a contemporary guitarist should be.”
From 2005-2009 Dan toured and recorded with two time Grammy Winner Diane Schuur playing in over 15 countries and 60 cities. When not on the road with Ms. Schuur he leads his own groups and continues his long standing gigs with drummer Mel Brown, David Friesen, and others.
Dan has appeared on over 80 CDs including eight of his own which have received critical acclaim and international airplay. Dan’s music has been featured in movies and television shows both in the U.S. and overseas.
Perhaps Dan’s greatest asset is his versatility. He has done recording sessions in all genres from jazz, to country, to rock and blues. His playing is requested by band leaders in all jazz styles from traditional swinging jazz to fusion to soul funk to free. Dan has performed with a long list of jazz greats including Joey DeFrancesco, Benny Green, Steve Smith. Airto, Bruce Forman, Houston Person, Jeff Hamilton, Bill Mays, Gerald Wilson, Eric Alexander, and Pat Martino among others.
His most recent CD, “Thanksgiving”, features New York heavyweights Gary Versace and Matt Wilson in a free spirited romp through several of Dan’s compositions. Marty Hughley, music critic for The Oregonian wrote, “Dan Balmer, the veteran Northwest guitar star, teams with two of New York’s finest to re-imagine the organ trio. The tunes are bright and inviting as much so for the improvisers as for listeners and the playing highlights the emotional warmth of Balmer’s approach with marvelous technique and vibrant imagination.”
Balmer's visit to the CWU jazz program is an educational event put together by Chris Bruya, CWU Director of Jazz Studies, to provide a mentoring environment where Dan will perform with each of 7 combos, with some performing his music. "There is no better way to learn this music than to play with the masters, so this will allow just that kind of situation," said Bruya. Each combo has been preparing music for the concert and Balmer will rehearse with each, make some tweeks and adjustments, then they will perform together on the concerts.
There will be two concerts on Tuesday, March 5th, one at 6:00pm, the other at 8:00pm, both in the McIntyre Music Building Recital Hall. Admission is free for both concerts.