Rick Balestra received his Masters Degree in Music from Ithaca College in 1992. He is the Professor of Guitar at SUNY Oswego, Colgate University, and Hamilton College. Besides being an active music educator, Rick is also a live performer. Rick has performed as a featured soloist with the Syracuse Symphony and Pops Orchestra along with playing in the pit for the Syracuse Opera Company and all of the professional theater companies regionally in numerous productions. He has performed in a number of Local and Regional Jazz Festivals including the Syracuse M&T Jazz Festival, the SUNY Oswego Jazz Guitar Festival, Glenora Wine Jazz Series, and Rochester's Cornhill Festival. Rick performed in all original creative music ensembles under the names of Drivetime, Alliance, Group Therapy, Groove Attack, Paul Cerra Group and continues to perform regularly with the group called SPACES in Central New York.

Rick is the originator and facilitator for the Jazz Guitar & More Festival held at SUNY Oswego for the last six years. This festival has presented internationally known artists such as Rez Abbasi, John Abercrombie, Gene Bertoncini, Pearl Django Roni Ben Hur, Rodney Jones , Vic Juris, Jonathan Kriesberg , Peter Leitch, and Mike Stern, performing along with Rick and other musicians from Central New York.

Currently Rick performs in many different settings from most recently the Jazz and More Duo (also featuring Chris Colabello) up to a Jazz/Blues Fusion Quintet called "Spaces." He also freelances with a number of the area's finest musicians.

What others are saying about Rick:

magazine coverRick Balestra, a talented jazz guitarist, clearly knows that mood and texture are of great importance and relevance.


In a day and age when a large amount of guitarists overuse effects, it's a true pleasure to hear some great guitar work in an uncluttered setting, and that is most certainly present here.

Dan Bilawsky
reviewing From the Shore
JazzImprov magazine Vol 7 No 2, Spring 2007

Rick Balestra has put together an extremely enjoyable album with tunes that have very listenable, unique personalities of their own. It has unusual twists and side-steps that are both pleasing musically and entertaining as well. Rick's playing is superb, he gets a great sound and there's no question about the conviction in his lines. It feels good from beginning to end.

Gene Bertoncini
recording artist

Rick's compositional talents really come to the froefront on his latest release, From the Shore ... showcasing a guitarist who is rooted in many different styles of jazz. Whether it be a cooker, a ballad or a slow blues, Balestra aptly demonstrates why he is a musician deserving national attention.

Eric Cohen
Music Director, WAER radio

Central New York band Spaces rode the contemporary jazz guitar work of Rick Balestra and smooth sax of Brendon Van Epps to some cool places. Balestra, one of the best jazz guitarists around these parts, has built a powerful jazz outfit with Chris Colabello on bass, Evan DuChene on drums and his brother Larry Balestra on percussion.

Mark Bialczak, the Post Standard
on the M&T Jazz Festival

Beautifully recorded, played and produced. A nice blend of well-arranged standards and witty originals, Rick Balestra's From the Shore deserves a serious listen.

Corey Christiansen, recording artist
music director for Mel Bay publications

It's timely, it's tasteful, it's technically awsome, but most importantly, it's great music.

Dave Myers
musician/arranger

NPR ...send me the second CD as soon as it's out...

Aubrey Dillon, "Lush Life"
NPR Radio

This was the busiest Wednesday night we've had all year!

The Little Pub at Hamilton College
after one of Rick's appearances

If you love innovative music, you'll really love Spaces' brand of jazz fusion.

Kathy DiNardo, music educator
Cazenovia Central Schools