Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Balvanyos, Judit, alto saxophone, composer; b. Budapest, Hungary, 25 June 1963. Her mother (b.1938) studied classical piano and improvised on her own. Also studied art. Her father (b.1938) was a graphic artist and head of visual arts department at a college in Budapest, author of several books on visual art education.
She started playing the saxophone at the age of 17 and studied at various schools in Hungary. Her first invitation to a professional group came from Hungary's free and ethno jazz saxophonist Mihaly Dresch. In 1992 she went to Boston, MA to attend Berklee College of Music, where among her teachers were George Garzone and Peter Cokkinias. She graduated in Performance in 1995. During her studies and later stays in the US she performed and recorded with her own and other musicians' groups in Boston and New York. She played in clubs like 'The Willow Jazz Club' and 'The Book Cellar Cafe' in Boston and 'The Knitting Factory' and 'ABC No RIO' in New York.
Her first recordings with her quartet came out on cassette. This cassette contained her own arrangements based on Hungarian folk music and improvisation. Later she wrote her own compositions also incorporating improvisation for trios up to quintets and a longer composition (Devi) for an eight-piece orchestra.
She formed the Balvanyos Tarsulat (Balvanyos Ensemble) in Hungary in 1998, which is based on two saxophone players, herself and Zsolt Varga (tenor and soprano saxophones) and which often perform with guest artists.
Musicians she has played with include: Sandor Fekete Kiss (piano), Tamas Rozs (cello, voice), Zsuzsa Vincze (violin) in Hungary; also Jane Wang (bass), Ruthie Dornfeld (violin), Scott Goulding (drums), Rick Mclaughlin (bass), Grant Smith (drums, percussions), Satoko Fujii (piano), Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), etc.
With the Balvanyos Ensemble in Hungary she started by playing loosely composed and arranged, improvised music and have proceeded to now playing without previous arrangements as well.
The Balvanyos Ensemble have performed in the most diverse places in Hungary, in big museums (like The Ludwig Museum Budapest and The National Gallery) and small galleries; some of Budapest's main classical venues (Pesti Vigado, Nador Terem); bookshops, colleges; in theaters, small and large; cinemas; at Hungary's oldest and best known radio station, Bartok Radio; at numerous festivals, and abroad in Holland, Germany, Paris, Poland and Romania.
She also ventures into classical territory as, for example she played Bartok's First Rhapsody, among other classical pieces, on the Hungarian Radio. She and the Ensemble often work with visual artists and dancers/movement artists, in theater and with the spoken word.
Lately she has been playing hand drum as well.
Forlorn (cassette) (1994); Untitled CD (1999)
Unissued studio recordings:
Under the Dark Moon (1995); Devi (1995)
1994 till today: numerous tapes and minidisks of concerts in Boston and Hungary; excerpts on our website.
Classical and jazz, Bartok Radio, Hungary, 1999 and 2001.
Concert at the Marble Hall, Budapest, Hungary, Petofi Radio, 2000.
Films and television:
Video film about the artwork of Janos Demeter Lorant, 1999.
Ferenc Grunwalsky: Body/Space, 2003
The story of linen, 2000. on MTV
The Vasilescu collection, 2001. on MTV
Grunwalsky Ferenc: documentaries, 2001
Gabriella Sulyok: in several films about Hungarian visual artists, 2000-2003
Articles about her (all in Hungarian newspapers and magazines)
"Nesze neked" Tibor by Kovacsy, in "Magyar Narancs", March, 2000.
"Modern rokoko", by Zoltan Vegso, in "Elet es Irodalom", June, 2000.
"Balvanyos Tarsulat" by Attila Danila, in "Gramofon", October, 2000.
"Zenelo festmenyek" by Attila Retkes, in "Magyar Hirlap", April, 2000.
"Idomtalan sello" by Viola Hertelendy in "Ellenfeny", 2000/7.
"Meznyalas" by Tibor Kovacsy, in "Magyar Narancs", September, 2001.
"A Balvanyos Tarsulat zenei tajkepei" by Lorinc Szendrei in "Nepszabadsag, December 2002.
"Gador Magda kiallitasa ele" in "Szokimondo" January 2003.