The Andy Ballantyne Large Ensemble’s much-anticipated debut recording “The Sum of the Parts” brings together top-flight Canadian jazz musicians performing innovative compositions and arrangements by saxophonist Andy Ballantyne. While the music is firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, the stylistic range is wide and includes elements of mainstream and free jazz, African and Latin rhythmic styles, rock-based feels in odd time signatures and breakbeat/jungle grooves.
Andy Ballantyne, Tara Davidson, Kelly Jefferson, Peter Lutek: saxophones.
Kevin Turcotte, Jason Logue: trumpets.
William Carn, Rob Somerville: trombones.
David Braid: piano
Michael McClennan: bass
Daniel Barnes: Drums
This “who’s who” of Canadian Jazz represents the cream of the current generation of musicians on the Toronto scene. Collectively they have garnered numerous Juno Awards and nominations, National Jazz Awards, etc.
"Reedman/composer Andy Ballantyne has found plenty to work with deploying his A-list troops on The Sum of the Parts (Indie). He's written seven of the ten pieces here, and has made charts of substance for a group with four saxophones, two trumpets and two trombones, balanced by the thriving rhythm section of pianist David Braid, bassist Mike McClennan and drummer Daniel Barnes. Together they pull off the tricky feat of balancing improvisation with composition. Everyone solos, eight of them on the fascinating opener "American Portrait," and the ensemble creates unusually rich blends throughout from the leader's crafted structures. Tracks to note include "Spin," a pulsating "The Big Dance," a flavourful "The Fifth Beatle" with trombonist William Carn and saxophonist Kelly Jefferson starring, and a laid-back "The Phone Don't Ring Jack" featuring growling trombone work from Rob Somerville. The boss saves Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" for himself and Braid, and it's delightful."
Geoff Chapman, Coda Magazine, March/April 2008