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Jorge Ball of Venezuela

keberoxu 27 Nov 15 - 07:40 PM
keberoxu 27 Nov 15 - 09:46 PM
keberoxu 13 Dec 15 - 03:23 PM
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Subject: Jorge Ball of Venezuela
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Nov 15 - 07:40 PM

This fellow is very much alive, although getting on in years....a frequent participant in the marathon group endeavor that is Inti-Illimani which began in 1967. Ball, unlike Inti-Illimani's core membership, is not Chilean, but comes from Venezuela. This is one massively talented musician. Are there instruments that he cannot play? Maybe he avoids keyboards, I have not heard of him playing keyboard instruments.

I have heard reports of a Jorge Ball Quinteto. Have yet to hear their music. Sounds like a good idea, considering that Ball could be a one-man band in the studio, multi-tracking his mastery of both wind instruments and stringed instruments. Some people voice displeasure with his wind playing actually. He is a forceful, excitable, fiery fellow, and it comes out in the sound of his quenas and flute playing: breathy, grainy, with an edge. If you like your Andean flutes to sound mellow, this is not the player for you -- he is like a kick in the seat of the pants.

My first exposure to Inti-Illimani was the compact disc Imagination, all instrumentals, recorded in Italy in the middle of their years in exile from Chile. It was in Italy, according to Horacio Salinas, that the Chileans and the Venezuelan encountered each other in the first place....think about that: South American Latin-american musicians who had to go to Europe in order to make music together. Jorge Ball plays a prominent role on Imagination; he and Marcelo Coulon together cover the quenas, and there are many songs featuring transverse flute, piccolo, and zampona/sicu as well.

What you would not know from being exposed to that side of him alone, is that Ball is proficient in stringed instruments as well. When Inti-Illimani encountered him, they were living in Rome, and Ball was an intensive student -- apprentice/journeyman, perhaps? -- in Cremona. He was there learning from the luthiers of Cremona.

Upon his eventual return to South America, one of the many things Ball undertook was the foundation of luthier workshops, of music making. He founded one such in Venezuela. If I read correctly, he has relocated to Chile where he has founded another one.

Is he a member of Inti-Illimani? The core members would say he is something else again, but one must remember that Inti-Illimani has transformed itself -- in 2007 it will be fifty years! -- into one of the great tour-performing machines of our day. To make the grade, by the core-members' standards, you have to submit to the grind of being on the road and being in close group formation day and night, for weeks, even months, on end. Everyone in Inti-Illimani, when asked, agrees that Jorge Ball is just not constituted for such a life. "Distracted," admits Horacio Salinas, who adores him. "Chaotic," opines Jorge Coulon. Ball seems the quintessential creative-artistic-right-brained artisan who needs a platform to support his many endeavors, not a harness to be yoked into.

And so, Jorge Ball comes and goes from Inti-Illimani as called for, usually Horacio Salinas asks for him. It has happened in three different eras, and Salinas remarked after Ball left the third time, that there probably will not be a fourth. I will be really curious to see what he does.

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Subject: RE: Jorge Ball of Venezuela
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Nov 15 - 09:46 PM

A partial list of what Jorge Ball "touches," as they prefer to say when musicians grow up speaking Spanish. He can sing as well, by the way.

Traverse flute
cuatro venezolano
tiple colombiano

And his luthier studio makes the "sindola" as well.

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Subject: RE: Jorge Ball of Venezuela
From: keberoxu
Date: 13 Dec 15 - 03:23 PM

To the Inti-Illimani canon, Jorge Ball contributed an instrumental, "La Marusa." Fasten your seat-belts before you listen to this one, it goes like a bat out of you-know-where. There is a live version on "Sing to Me the Dream," the live Holly Near album when she was accompanied on tour by the Inti. The studio version appears on the Inti's instrumental album, "Imagination."

Future posts to this thread will quote from "La cancion en el sombrero," the autobiography by guitarist/music-director Horacio Salinas (currently of Inti-Illimani Historico). Salinas is partial to Ball, and has many specific observations about him. Alas, it sounds as though other long-time members close to Salinas are not as delighted with Ball as he is. But Salinas has to live with these others, so he does not expose their identities.

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