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Charlie Ballantine
Charlie Ballantine

Venturing into the heart of jazz and contemporary music, we had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with the prodigious guitarist, Charlie Ballantine, to delve into his highly anticipated recording project and the thrilling gig awaiting us at Zinc on Monday, August 7. 

Hailing from the vibrant musical city of Indianapolis, Indiana, Charlie’s journey as a musician began at the tender age of eight when he first cradled a guitar in his hands, igniting a lifelong passion that continues to burn brightly.

Throughout his musical odyssey, Charlie has crafted his artistry with meticulous precision, leaving audiences awe-inspired by his virtuosic playing and innovative compositions. With every note he plays, he paints vivid sonic landscapes that traverse boundaries, melting blues, rock, jazz, and classical elements into a harmonious tapestry.

Blessed with a family of devoted music lovers, Charlie’s childhood was a symphony of diverse genres that set the stage for his one-of-a-kind style. The amalgamation of these varied influences gives his music a spellbinding charm, captivating listeners from all walks of life.

Fueling his musical fire, Charlie drew inspiration from legendary guitarists like Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, and John Scofield, absorbing their essence and molding it into his distinct voice. This rich foundation has kindled within him a profound appreciation for improvisation, allowing him to weave intricate narratives through his music, transporting audiences on a mesmerizing journey of emotion and expression.

With his recording project on the horizon and an eagerly awaited gig at Zinc, Charlie Ballantine is poised to enchant us all with his boundless talent and unparalleled artistry. Get ready to immerse yourself in the magic of his music, for this rising star is destined to shine ever brighter in the constellation of musical greatness.

Charles Carlini: Charlie, your journey as a guitarist has led you to acclaim and recognition in the music industry. Can you share with us how you first discovered your love for the guitar and what inspired you to pursue it as your instrument of choice?

Charlie Ballantine: Growing up, my dad was a guitarist and he owned guitar and record stores. As a result, guitars were always around me. I have vivid memories of being a kid and seeing amazing telecasters and 335s hanging on the store walls, with fantastic guitar albums by artists like Scofield, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Barney Kessel, and Jim Hall playing in the background. Guitar culture was simply a part of my family’s upbringing, and I was completely immersed in it.

CC: Can you tell us about your new project and what inspired you to produce it?

CB: This project and the opportunity to jam with these guys are like a dream come true for me. After recently relocating to the east coast, I made a firm decision to reach out to some of my long-time inspirations from my childhood. Ever since I first heard Brian Blade’s Fellowship Band, I’ve been yearning to play with Jon Cowherd. Additionally, the unforgettable concerts I attended featuring the Bill Frisell Trio with Kenny Wollesen and Tony Scherr left a lasting impact on my music journey. Their incredible playing and influence have significantly shaped my own playing and composition style over the years, which led me to assemble this band.

CC: Your music blends various genres seamlessly. How do you approach incorporating different styles into your compositions, and what can fans expect from your latest project?

CB: It’s funny how it all unfolded; I never consciously planned it. Back in music school, my focus was on becoming a skilled bebop player, and I was really immersed in learning that language. However, as I started working on my own projects and composing my own music, I noticed a beautiful blend of various influences seeping into my jazz expression. Growing up around my dad’s record stores exposed me to an immense variety of music, and being so young at the time, I didn’t differentiate between genres. Whether it was the Beatles, Hendrix, Pat Metheny, Jeff Beck, Monk, or anything else, it was all fantastic music to me, and I was eager to explore and become a part of it all.

CC: As a highly acclaimed guitarist, what techniques or musical elements do you explore in your music to create a unique and captivating experience for your audience?

CB: I’ve always had a strong focus on maintaining a rigorous technical approach. Being able to play what I hear has been a driving goal for me, so I dedicate a lot of effort to mastering the technical aspects of the instrument. However, my passion for searching for beautiful melodies is what truly motivates me. There’s something captivating about crafting melodic material that carries emotional depth.

I vividly recall something Pat Metheny said about his approach that resonated deeply with me. He mentioned that while rhythm and harmony are well-explained and understood concepts, the true essence of what makes a great melody still remains a mystery. That idea has stayed with me, inspiring my pursuit of creating meaningful and emotive melodies.

CC: Your gig at Zinc on Monday, August 7, is generating a lot of excitement. Could you share a sneak peek of what attendees can look forward to during the performance?

CB: I’m thrilled to say that it’s going to be an incredibly special night. We’ll be performing some fresh, brand-new music that we’re about to record in the studio, and let me tell you, these musicians are simply outstanding. They’re true visionaries, and I couldn’t be more excited about sharing the stage with them.

CC: With such an impressive musical journey, what advice would you give to aspiring guitarists or musicians looking to make their mark in the industry?

CB: The best advice I can give is to keep playing and continuously challenge yourself to unlock the incredible creativity and individual voice that resides within all of us. As you persist on this path, you’ll eventually uncover what makes you unique and special, revealing aspects of yourself that you never knew existed. We each carry these distinct qualities, and there’s an inner artist within all of us. It often takes time, perhaps years, to fully grasp and channel this essence into its true purpose. So, my advice remains: keep playing, keep exploring, and keep searching. The journey is worth every moment.


Charlie, we are immensely grateful for the captivating journey you’ve taken us on during this interview. 

Don’t miss his eagerly awaited gig at Zinc on Monday, August 7, where Charlie and his exceptional ensemble will create an unforgettable night of musical magic. Visit his website for more on his upcoming projects and secure your tickets to experience his extraordinary talent in an evening of jazz excellence.

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