Balança is a 5-piece Brazilian Jazz Group comprising:
Cathy Jones- vocals and percussion,
Tristram Cox- Guitar,
Thad Kelly- Bass,
Mark Whitlam- Drums
Kevin Figes- Flute and Saxophone.
Balança’s music draws on both Jazz and the music of Brazil.
Their material ranges from the Bossa Novas and Sambas of
Jobim and João Gilberto,
through to the music of contemporary Brazilian Jazz artists
including Joyce and Hermeto Pascoal and Jazz artists
such as Pat Metheny and Chick Corea.
Cathy Jones and Kevin Figes provide arrangements
and original material lending a fresh and contemporary feel to the music.
In addition to delivering Portugese lyrics in an authentic and evocative style, Cathy frequently takes an instrumental role, joining Kevin Figes’ flute and saxophone to create unison lines and melodies.
The rhythms and grooves of Brazil are at the heart of Balança’s sound and Cathy’s assured percussion locks in with the Rhythm Section to create exciting patterns and textures. Balança’s performances are uplifting, energetic and eminently danceable.
Cathy Jones – Vocals/Percussion
Cathy grew up studying classical piano, violin and viola, playing regularly in orchestras and ensembles throughout her teenage years. A strong interest in rhythm also found her playing percussion and drums, leading her to explore Brazilian and Afro-Cuban Music. Cathy spent some years immersed in the world of Samba schools, honing her skills as a Samba player and deepening her understanding of the music. This led on to her involvement with the Brazilian Jazz outfit ‘Sirius B’. She then went on to form her own bands taking up the role as vocalist.
A keen interest in Jazz and improvisation inspired Cathy to study at the Royal Welsh College where she gained a Masters Degree in Jazz Performance. During this time she was able to further develop her interest in using her voice more instrumentally and also to explore jazz harmony and composition.
Widely respected for her approach to both Brazilian and Jazz repertoire, Cathy is a well established performer, gigging regularly throughout the Southwest, Wales and beyond. This has involved both her own projects and also numerous collaborations with other musicians, including performances at Glastonbury’s Jazz Lounge, Marlborough Festival and London’s Jazz Café.
Cathy’s influences are wide ranging, including Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, Norma Winstone, Christine Tobin, Joni Mitchell, Elis Regina, Luciana Souza and Joyce.
Kevin Figes – Flute/Saxophone
Kevin Figes began studying saxophone with Elton Dean, and later attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama studying with Tim Garland. He composes for his own quartet which has released two CD’s, “Circular Motion” (Edition) and “Hometime” (Pig) which received much critical acclaim. The Quartet tours the UK regularly, with help from Jazz Services, and has been broadcast several times on Radio 3.
He also writes for 15 piece big band “Resonation” which features some of the finest musicians from the west and beyond. He has a notable connection with Keith Tippett, performing in his big hand “Tapestry” in Portugal and Canada, and in his octet including broadcasts on Radio 3. Kevin has also performed with Dave Stapleton and recorded an album for his label (Edition). More recently alongside the quartet he formed the band “4 Sided Triangle” which included guitarist Mike Outram, and their first CD was released in July 2012.
Through his desperation not to work for a living Thad Kelly decided to play the bass an instrument that seemed the easiest at the time only having to play 2 if not 1 beats to a bar on a choice of only four strings little realizing that over the next couple of decades he would have to lug that beast half way around the world with him on his varied musical career. Rather stupidly he started playing jazz gigs and couldn’t stop because people kept booking him. Jazz singers such as Ian Shaw, Claire Martin, Jacqui Dankworth should have known better. Searching a bit further than the great American Song Book , Thad joined Orquestra Mahatmathat played songs and rhythms from around the world. Later he began to rip up musical form with aural anarchist Billy Jenkins who explores the urban blues pallet (of late night tescos and boarded up shopping malls etc.). This naturally led on to more rock like forms of groove with Partisans , an award winning band that paved the way for the newer genre clashing jazz bands today. Again realizing he had ventured too far down a harmonically obscure tunnel , Thad started playing sweeter soul grooves with old friend Ashley Slater [he of freak power fame]. After ending up in the wilds of a forest in Gloucestershire, what better way to explore songs and tunes of Brazil than with Balança who have opened the door to a genre Thad has been interested in from the beginning.
Mark Whitlam – Drums
Mark Whitlam (Drums) Mark is also hugely in demand and has performed many of the UK’s finest jazz musicians including Alan Barnes, Gareth Williams, Tina May, Dave Newton, Jim Mullen, Mike Outram and Chris Biscoe. He also plays in the Jim Blomfield Trio, the Nick Malcolm Quartet, Moonlight Saving Time and Jake McMurchie’s trio and has recordings coming out with each of these groups. Mark has appeared at most of the UK’s leading jazz festivals including Brecon, Cheltenham, Manchester and Swanage and also Glastonbury Festival, having received air play on BBC Radio 3 ‘Late Junction’ and Radio 6 ‘Introducing …’ programmes. As an educator, he tutors undergraduate students as a member of the drum faculty at BIMM Bristol
“Whitlam’s neatly energetic drumming … is consistently bright, inventive and responsive” (Ian Mann)
Tristram Cox – Guitar
Tristram began playing guitar through studying classical guitar and later pursued an interest in playing jazz, soul and brazilian styles. He has studied with Jim Mullen, Dave Cliff and Mike Outram and lived and played in London for most of his career. He has played professionally across a range of styles including live hip-hop with Maxi Jazz( Faithless), soul funk with Jamiroquai and pop with Mavis Staples and Mica Paris. He has continued to study jazz and improvised music as a lifelong focus and also has pursued a particular interest in Brazilian music, playing with the south African drummer Brian Abrahams and Uruguayan guitarist Guillermo Hill in the brazilian project Azulao, playing a mixture of originals and contemporary brazilian music. Tristram later trained as a music psychotherapist and has worked with both children and adults in various settings inlcuding special needs and psychiatric care. He moved to Bristol to take up a post in this work and has continued to play, record and perform with several groups which currently include Balanca, contemporary jazz trio Miyako as well as a swing quartet, The Flat foot floogies.
“(the material feels) authentic and evocative”
“Very assured and authentic Brazilian vocals from Cathy Jones fronting a smart band of seasoned Latin jazzers” – Tony Benjamin, Venue Magazine