Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

14

Nik Bärtsch: Awase

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
The exquisite Awase is Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch's eighth release with his band Ronin. Although the ensemble has had a few personnel changes, the album maintains the creative energy and the spirit of its previous work.

The title refers to a principle of martial arts that translates to coming together and an appropriately dynamic synergy marks all six tracks. The cinematic "Module 34," for instance, consists of atmospheric and expansive refrains that resonate against Bärtsch's cascading piano. The seamless fusion of individual motifs creates complex and intricately constructed melodic fragments that coalesce to form the angular and crystalline tune. Drummer Kaspar Rast and new bassist Thomy Jordi lay down swaggering and eloquent rhythms. Reedman Sha (Stefan Haslebacher) lets loose undulating, yearning notes over these sonic waves. Bärtsch concludes with ringing keys that echo against the quartet's rumble.

The music here is more intimate than on previous recordings, perhaps because of the lack of any electronics. The Sha-penned "A" is wistful, opening with the composer's forlorn duet with Bärtsch. A hypnotic dialogue becomes tense with the entry of Rast's exacting beats and Jordi's taut reverberations. Sha blows in short emotive phrases over the swirling vamps of his colleagues. The vibrant, repeating motifs evolve into mesmerizing patterns. Both in mood and concept this piece is in sync with Bärtsch's own "Modul" tracks.

Elements of eastern mysticism are often mixed in with the overall western musical themes. Sha's haunting bass clarinet opens the ethereal "Modul 59" that is peppered with oriental tones and chimes. Bärtsch's tolling piano over Rast's brushes and Jordi's deep dark lines form a Zen-like serene framework. Within it Sha strolls with elegance and lyricism.

Awase is another superb and cohesive disc that highlights Bärtsch's and his sidemen's outstanding musicianship and shared artistic vision. Over the past 16 years, Ronin's collective sound has matured and become more sophisticated without losing its exuberance or its spontaneity.

Track Listing: Modul 60; Modul 58; A; Modul 36; Modul 34; Modul 59.

Personnel: Nik Bärtsch: piano; Sha: bass clarinet, alto saxophone; Thomy Jordi: bass; Kasper Rast: drums.

Title: Awase | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Mar20Wed
Nik Bärtsch
World Cafe Live - Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA
$25

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Bulería Brooklyniana Album Reviews
Bulería Brooklyniana
By Dan Bilawsky
January 23, 2019
Read At The Hill Of James Magee Album Reviews
At The Hill Of James Magee
By Mark Corroto
January 23, 2019
Read Stomping Off From Greenwood Album Reviews
Stomping Off From Greenwood
By Mike Jurkovic
January 23, 2019
Read Live: The Rites of Spring Festival 2018 Album Reviews
Live: The Rites of Spring Festival 2018
By Roger Weisman
January 23, 2019
Read Runner in the Rain Album Reviews
Runner in the Rain
By Jack Bowers
January 22, 2019
Read Driftglass Album Reviews
Driftglass
By Chris May
January 22, 2019
Read Pure Magic Album Reviews
Pure Magic
By Mark Sullivan
January 22, 2019