Introducing Novel Jazz

"Keeping the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn alive and swinging..."

Photo by Carl Tubbesing

The Story of Novel Jazz

The musicians of "Novel Jazz" have been performing straight-ahead jazz around Maine and New England for over three decades. They draw from the Great American Songbook and specialize in the works of Edward Kennedy ("Duke") Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The band members hail from all over Maineā€¦Belfast, Buxton, Chebeague Island, Gardiner, Newcastle, Vassleboro as well as Westbroek. They perform regularly in mid-coast Maine (the town of Damariscotta, at the Skidompha Public Library; approximately four times per year) as an effort to keep jazz alive in the state. Fifteen years ago, they embarked on a project to go through the massive archive of compositions by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn-- who wrote about 2,500 pieces between them-- transcribe some lesser known gems for the band and reinterpret them with a 21st century sound. Their first CD was released in 2008, their second was released in 2011. The band released their third CD, "Novel and Novelle... More unearthed treasures by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington" in June 2015. Their fourth CD was released in the summer of 2019. Public radio did a special radio news interview on the Ellington/Strayhorn project of Novel Jazz. Miscellaneous press clippings can be found here. Several two-hour programs dedicated to Novel Jazz have been broadcast on Maine Public Radio's jazz show, "Jazz Tonight" over the years.

Booking Options

Novel Jazz regularly performs at clubs, restaurants and concert venues. They even perform Ellington's sacred music in church settings. Their shows include both the music plus rich history behind each composition. Barney Balch and friends are also available for special events, weddings, anniversaries, dance parties, business functions, funerals or whatever occasion, with groups of two to seven pieces.

Contact Barney Balch for booking details, calendar of performances, references, photos, song lists, demos, etc. Barney and friends look forward to playing for your next event!

Barney Balch

Sheepscot Jazz and Swing Co.

Newcastle, Maine

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