An eclectic new project, this group combines the worlds of jazz, world music and classical, featuring the intimate chamber instrumentation of violin, guitar, cello and accordion and an elegant yet fiery fusion of improvisation and written music.
Ranging from Parisian and American Jazz, the Chaabi music of Algeria, Tango from Argentina, Balkan folk melodies through to the early modern and folk music of Western Europe, Balagan fuses these threads into a coherent and characteristic sound world.
‘…this is music for the ears, heart and feet.’
The past couple of years have seen the band perform at venues including the Elgar Room, Omnibus and National Portrait Gallery to enthusiastic public responses. The ensemble features some of the UK’s most versatile and capable artists:
Christian Miller – Guitar/Leader
Trading astronomy for the guitar, Christian has played and recorded with a broad cross section of London’s finest musicians including: Nigel Price, Adrian Cox, Mike Mondesir and many others in music ranging from New Orleans jazz and swing through to bop, contemporary jazz and electric fusion.
A student of a broad spectrum of musicians including Dave Cliff, Peter Bernstein, Barry Harris, Stevie Wishart and Keith Tippet, he aims to combine a deep respect for the traditions of jazz with an open mind for future directions. His projects include string fusion group Balagan Cafe Band, gypsy jazz band the Hot Club of Jupiter and electric jazz quartet Big Fan.
Richard Jones - Violin
Richard Jones is an exciting young British violinist recognised for his innovative sound, approach and adaptability in bringing the violin to life within a broad range of musical contexts. Born in Wales, his musical upbringing was a diverse tapestry of experiences that ignited his passion for music and provided opportunity to explore and develop.
Since completing his studies at Guildhall, Richard has immersed himself in the London jazz scene and recent collaborations include projects lead by leading Jazz musicians Christine Tobin, Mark Edwards, Robert Mitchell and Nicolas Meier.
Shirley Smart - Cello
Shirley Smart is recognised as one of the UK's most versatile and creative cellists. She spent 10 years in Jerusalem, where studied and performed in a wide variety of musical traditions from the North Africa, Turkey and Middle East.
She has subsequently worked with many leading musicians including Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital, Yasmin Levy, Antonio Forcione, Mulato Astatke and Neil Cowley. Her own projects include leading her own trio, and the band Melange as well as a duo with pianist Robert Mitchell and Iraqi-folk based trio Sawa.
She also teaches jazz and improvisation at the Royal College of Music and City University.