Born 1955 in Norway. Started career as pianist in in Arild Andersens quartet in 1974. ECM recordings and tours in Europe. Later joined groups of singer Radka Toneff, as well as Eolén, a West-African/Norwegian collaboration. Joined the ground breaking mini-bigband Oslo 13 in 1981 and quickly established as composer and artistic co-leader. Around the same time Masqualero formed, with Nils Petter Molvaer, Jon Christensen and more.
In 1991 Balke left all former collaborations to form Jøkleba, a free improvising trio with Audun Kleive and Per Jørgensen, and in 1992 shaped the still ongoing project Magnetic North Orchestra, an new orchestral approach to a balance of composed and improvised spaces.
In 2001 Balke formed Batagraf, a group of percussion players and Balke. This functions as an open forum, involving several soloists like Arve Henriksen and Sidsel Endresen, as well as
sound poet Jaap Blonk, satirical comedian Espen Beranek Holm and the eminent mixed choir Ensemble 96.
In parallel with these projects Balke has worked extensively as a composer
for sinfoniettas, bigbands, vocal groups and stage performances.
The latest project is SIWAN a collaboration with moroccan singer Amina Alaoui, Jon Hassel and ensemble of 16 musicians.
Further info: www.magnetic.no
Balke plays piano, electronics, and percussion, and records for ECM records. He is a member of Norwegian association of composers.
Jon appears on the following SOFA-releases
- Point 4 «Panopticon» (piano/electronics)