Dan Balmer has long been considered the finest jazz guitarist in Oregon. His recent induction into the Jazz Society of Oregon's Hall of Fame, as it's youngest member and first guitarist, is just the latest recognition of Dan's talent as a performer, composer, and educator.
Dan began performing in his late teens with, among others, saxophone legend Jim Pepper, and joined Tom Grant's internationally known group in the 1980's. His partnership with Grant lead to many successful recordings and national tours as they helped create and define the sound of contemporary jazz.
Following his stint with the Grant band, Dan became a well known leader in his own right releasing seven recordings that gained national praise and recognition. The Los Angeles Times proclaimed Dan as "...the model of what a contemporary guitarist should be."
In his live concerts and recordings Dan presents a unique blend of contemporary and traditional jazz styles, juxtaposed with influences ranging from pop to Brazilian music. Paired with his virtuosity as a guitarist, every performance is especially crafted to reach its audience.
As well as leading his own groups, Dan has been in demand as a sideman, recording and playing with almost every Northwest artist of note including David Friesen, Mel Brown, Ron Steen, Patrick Lamb, John Nilsen, etc. As a result, his guitar sound is represented on over 70 CDs.
Dan has also performed or recorded with jazz legends Joey Defrancesco, Airto, Red Mitchell, Bill Mays, Steve Smith, Pat Martino, Bud Shank, and Joe LaBarbara among others.
Currently, Dan leads his ever popular group, The Dan Balmer Trio as well as his new cooperative band, "Go By Train". He is also a member of Portland's most popular jazz band "The Mel Brown B-3 Organ Quartet", "The Mel Brown Quartet", and "The David Friesen Quintet".
Dan's most recent recording is "Through These Years", a compilation of many of his most popular songs from 1989-1996 with two brand new pieces included. He also has recently recorded with both Mel Brown ensembles, and with the popular singer songwriter McKinley. Both Dan and "Go By Train" plan on new releases in the coming year.
Dan is also well known as an educator having lectured at USC, University of California at Berkeley, University of Oregon, Spokane Falls Community College, and University of Alaska at Anchorage, as well as internationally in Spain and Canada. He is a regular faculty member of the Western Oregon University Mel Brown Jazz Workshop and Centrum Jazz Workshop in Pt. Townsend. Dan also runs the jazz band at Lewis and Clark College and has taught there for over twenty years.
As a composer, Dan's works have been popular on radio and have been used in films, television, commercials, and even choreographed by The Oregon Ballet Theater.
Dan's playing and composing have won rave reviews from critics around the country. The Palm Beach Post wrote "...guitarist Dan Balmer's fast fingered runs and twisting figures were arresting." The Seattle Times proclaimed, "Balmer's top fuel solos and tasty octave work...were most satisfying." The Anchorage Daily News stated, "Balmer turned in a top notch, unstinting performance. Everyone seems to agree that Dan offers a rare combination of original, high quality music that makes him one of the most versatile, talented, and popular artists in the Northwest.