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Jon Balke
Jon Balke.jpg
Balke at Berchidda on Sardinia, 2006
(Photo by Gianfranco Rota)
Background information
Birth nameJon Georg Balke
Born (1955-06-07) 7 June 1955 (age 64)
Furnes, Norway
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Associated actsMagnetic North Orchestra

Jon Georg Balke (born 7 June 1955) is a Norwegian jazz pianist who leads the Magnetic North Orchestra. He is the younger brother of saxophonist Erik Balke.[1][2][3]


Balke at Sentralen during the 2016 Oslo Jazzfestival
Balke at Sentralen during
the 2016 Oslo Jazzfestival

Balke started playing classical piano but switched to blues at 12, though he performs within several genres. At the age of 18 he joined Arild Andersen's quartet. By the mid-1980s he worked on his own and would become one of Norway's leading jazz composers.[4] He was active in the groups of Radka Toneff and in the Afrofusion group E'olén before joining Oslo 13 and Masqualero in the early 1980s. From 1989 he focused on his own projects, such as JøKleBa (with Audun Kleive and Per Jørgensen) and the Magnetic North Orchestra for which he composed the commissioned work Il Cenoneat to Vossajazz 1992.[5]

Balke formed the percussion group Batagraf in 2002, and created the concept work Siwan with singer Amina Alaoui in 2007. He is also the creator of a series of multimedia concerts at Vossajazz festival, labeled Ekstremjazz. The concerts involve various practitioners of extreme sports, such as parachuting, paragliding, hanggliding, and BMX biking.[1][4] In 2012 he was artist in residence at Moldejazz.[6] In 2016 he launched the solo piano concept Warp the use of live electronics accompanying the grand piano in live performances.

Awards and honors

  • 1984: Buddyprisen
  • 1993: Jazz Musician of the Year
  • 2000: Edvard Prize in popular music – major works, for the album Solarized
  • 2003: Oslo Bys kulturstipend[1]
  • 2008: Gammleng-prisen in the class jazz
  • 2009* Jahrespreis der Deutschen Musikkritiker
  • 2012: Artist in Residence at Moldejazz[7]


As leader

An asterisk (*) indicates year of release.

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1994 Further ECM With Morten Halle (sax), Per Jørgensen (trpt), Tore Brunborg (sax) Anders Jormin (bass) Marilyn Mazur (perc) Audun Kleive (perc)
1997 Rotor Curling Legs With Morten Hannisdal (cello), Marek Konstantynowicz (viola), Henrik Hannisdal and Odd Hannisdal (violin)
1998* Saturation Jazzland/EmArcy With Nils-Olav Johansen (guitar, vocals), Fredrik Lundin (sax, flute), Sidsel Endresen (vocals)
1999 Solarized EmArcy Magnetic North Orchestra
2002 Kyanos ECM Magnetic North Orchestra
2004 Diverted Travels ECM Magnetic North Orchestra
2006 Book of Velocities ECM Solo piano
2007–08 Siwan ECM With Amina Alaoui (vocals), Jon Hassell (trumpet, electronics), Kheir Eddine M Kachiche (violin), Helge Andreas Norbakken (percussion), Pedram Khavar Zamini (zarb), Bjarte Eike, Per Buhre, Peter Spissky, Anna Ivanovna Sundin and Miloš Valent (violin), Rastko Roknic and Joel Sundin (viola) Tom Pitt (cello), Kate Hearne (cello, recorder), Mattias Frostensson (double bass), Andreas Arend (theorboe, archlute), Hans Knut Sveen (harpsichord, clavichord)
2009 Say and Play ECM With Helge Andreas Norbakken (sabar, gorong, djembe, talking drum, shakers, percussion), Emilie Stoesen Christensen (vocals), Erland Dahlen (drums), Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen (poetry reading)
2012 Magnetic Works ECM Magnetic North Orchestra
2014 Warp ECM Solo piano and keyboards with field recordings[8]
2017 Nahnou Houm ECM Second album with the Siwan concept[9]

As co-leader

With Jøkleba

  • 1991: On and On (Odin)
  • 1993: JøKleBa! (Norsk Plateproduksjon)
  • 1996: JøKleBa Live (Curling Legs)
  • 2011: Nu Jøk? (EmArcy, Universal Music Norway)
  • 2014: Outland (ECM)[10]
  • 2012: Magnetic Works 1993-2001 (ECM), compilation[3][11]

With Batagraf

  • 2005: Statements (ECM)
  • 2011: Say and Play (ECM)
  • 2016: On Anodyne (Grappa)
  • 2018: Delights of Decay (Jazzland)

As sideman

With Radka Toneff

  • 1979: It Don't Come Easy (PolyGram)
  • 2008: Butterfly (Curling Legs), recorded 1976–77

With Masqualero

  • 1983: Masqualero (Odin)
  • 1985: Bande a Parte (ECM)

With Oslo 13

  • 1983: Anti-Therapy (Odin)
  • 1987: Off Balance (Odin)
  • 1992: Nonsentration (ECM)
  • 1994: Oslo 13 Live (Curling Legs)

With others

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Jon Balke Biography (in Norwegian). Norsk Biografisk Leksikon. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  2. ^ "Europe Jazz Orchestra". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  3. ^ a b Kelman, John (2012-08-15). "Jon Balke: Magnetic Works 1993-2001 - Extended Analysis". Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  4. ^ a b "Jon Balke Biography - Music Information Center Norway -".
  5. ^ "Jon Balke - alene med et flygel - Jazz". (in Norwegian)
  6. ^ "Jon Balke - Artist in Recidence". Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  7. ^ "Jon Balke – Magnetic Works" (in Norwegian). Jazz
  8. ^ "Warp". ECM Records. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Nahnou Houm". ECM Records. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Jon Balke and Magnetic North Orchestra: Diverted travels - Listen to Norway". Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. (by Tomas Lauvland Pettersen)
  11. ^ "Magnetic Works 1993-2001". ECM Records. Retrieved 2016-05-24.

External links

Preceded by
Terje Bjørklund, Knut Kristiansen and Espen Rud
Recipient of the Buddyprisen
Succeeded by
Terje Rypdal
Preceded by
The Brazz Brothers
Recipient of the Jazz Gammleng-prisen
Succeeded by
Finn Sletten
This page was last edited on 31 December 2019, at 15:01
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