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Nik Bärtsch

With the zen-funk quintet RONIN founded in 2001, Nik Bärtsch, a composer and pianist from Zurich,- together with Kaspar Rast (drums), Björn Meyer (bass), Andi Pupato (percussion) and lately Sha (bass/contrabass clarinet), proceeds with his work on RITUAL GROOVE MUSIC. Their music consistently follows the same aesthetic vision under various instrumental guises: creating the maximum effect by minimal means.

Despite the multiplicity of the band’s influences, Ronin’s music always possesses a strong individuality. They incorporate elements of disparate musical worlds, be they funk, new classical music or sounds from Japanese ritual music.

However, these forms are never merely juxtaposed in a post-modernist fashion but instead amalgamated into a coherent new style. Ultimately, these sounds and rhythms are highly idiosyncratic. The music consists of very few phrases and motives, continually combined and layered in new ways. Ronin thus creates a consistent aesthetic across all levels of musical expression. Composition, phrasing, sound structure, performance, and musical form all combine to form a system of interrelated elements. (Michel Mettler)


“There are two paths a samurai can walk: that of a clan member, and that of a ronin, a lonely warrior. The former is highly esteemed in Japan, the latter is bitterly detested.

The despised warrior without a clan is viewed by clan people as a hungry wolf, roaming through the country, with no ties or obligations, no duties or support, no protection, no respect for people’s material well-being. Despite his virtuosity as a swordsman, a lone fighter is unable to withstand gangs or clansmen eager to fight. His readiness to die could be tested any time: not in a great battle between two mighty clans where he might die a famous hero but in trifling rows over a mouthful of rice or a sip of sake. If a ronin wants to survive, he must, wherever he goes, remain extremely careful. He has no social status whatsoever and is not respected by anybody. People treat him with the same level of caution as they would a wild animal that attacks whenever frightened.

Most of these ronin aren’t happy with their destiny. They spend most of their time struggling to ingratiate themselves with anybody who would accept them, hoping for a clan in need of warriors. They are cursed with shabby clothes and inadequate food, longing for the honour and security of a clan member.

If only those destitute samurai could view their situation without prejudice! They might see that, at the cost of tolerable poverty, they have acquired a rare treasure: freedom.

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72 Jazz Thrillers

The Most Exciting Jazz Albums Since 1969: 2017-2020

Read "The Most Exciting Jazz Albums Since 1969: 2017-2020" reviewed by Robert Middleton

As we start to wind down to the 72nd jazz thriller, in our penultimate collection of half a dozen jazz thrillers this week, it becomes clear that brilliant, compelling music comes in all shapes and sizes. From an understated quartet from Germany to an Aaron Parks masterpiece, all of these albums deserve a place in the hallowed halls of great jazz albums. 72 Thrilling Jazz Albums, Part 11: 2017-2020 61 Nubya's 5ive Nubya Garcia

Play This!

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin - Modul 45 (Live)

Read "Nik Bärtsch's Ronin - Modul 45 (Live)" reviewed by Mike Jacobs

With Nik Bärtsch's composition-naming system consisting solely of numbered “Moduls," it can be a little tricky for even the well-versed fan to keep track of their favorite Ronin pieces. And indeed, one may still need a mnemonic for the title after hearing Ronin perform their signature concert piece--Modul 45--but the music itself will likely be quite hard to forget. ...

Radio & Podcasts

New Releases With London Brew, Travis Larsen. Plus Nik Bartsch And Stephan Thelen

Read "New Releases With London Brew, Travis Larsen. Plus Nik Bartsch And Stephan Thelen" reviewed by Len Davis

New and recent releases from London Brew referencing Miles Davis, Norwegian guitarist Tore Morten Andreasson, Italian guitarist Camila Sperati and Travis Larsen Band. Allan Holdsworth's Legacy. Nik Bartsch from his ECM release Continuum, Stephan Thelen from Fractal Guitar 3 and Vital Information from Show 'em Where You Live.Playlist London Brew “Miles Chases New Voodoo In The Church" from London Brew (Concord Jazz) 00:00 Tore Morten Andreasson “Akrotiri" from Ancient Ruins (Neovision) 0:08:03 Camila Sperati “Tropical Journey" from Moonrise ...

Festivals Talking

Enjoy Jazz Interviews: Nik Bärtsch

Read "Enjoy Jazz Interviews: Nik Bärtsch" reviewed by Martin Longley

The Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch has become a virtual fixture of the Enjoy Jazz festival, which customarily inhabits at least three cities in southern Germany. It sprawls across all of October and half of November, presenting at least one performance each night in Heidelberg, Mannheim or Ludwigshafen. Sometimes there will be two or even three gigs on certain days, in different cities, and occasionally the town of Schwetzingen is used, famed for its Rococo Theatre. In 2020, Bärtsch ...

Radio & Podcasts

Music from Quique Ramirez and Michel Stekelenburg, plus Sonar and Nik Bartsch

Read "Music from Quique Ramirez and Michel Stekelenburg, plus Sonar and Nik Bartsch" reviewed by Len Davis

New music from the Netherlands with Trio Onoda, drummer Quique Ramirez with special guest David Binney, minimalist sounds from Sonar featuring David Torn, and Nik Bartsch from Awase. Jing Chi, Protocol and Allan Holdsworth.Playlist Michel Stekelenburg “Consecotalephobia" from Trio Onoda (Zennez) 00:00 Quique Ramirez “The Microtiming Man" from Through The Darkness (Self Produced) 07:16 Sonar “Tunnel Drive" from Transeportation Vol 1 (Rare Noise) 14:31 Nik Bartsch “Module 34" from Awase (ECM) 21:52 MSM Schmidt “Medusa" from Life (Laika) ...

In Pictures

Jazz & Wine of Peace 2021, Part 1-2

Read "Jazz & Wine of Peace 2021, Part 1-2" reviewed by Luciano Rossetti

A collection of photos from the Jazz & Wine of Peace festival in Cormons from October 21-25, 2021 featuring Tim Berne Broken Shadows, Linda May Han Oh, Dave Holland & John Scofield Duo, Lakacia Benjamin Nik Bartsch Ronin, Ralph Towner, Daniel Humair, Zlatko Kaucic, Dimitri Grechi Espinoza, Emanuele Parrini, Anais Drago, Enzo Favata The Crossing and others. This collection of photos was a joint collaboration by Luciano Rosetti and Luca d'Agostino (Phocus Agency). ...

Album Review

Nik Bärtsch: Entendre

Read "Entendre" reviewed by Geno Thackara

Amidst the different shifting contexts that Nik Bärtsch has used to explore his unique minimalist-groove style known as Zen funk—his counterpart Ronin and Mobile groups having gone through a few changes and sometimes expanded with extra members as Ronin Rhythm Clan—it's a rare pleasure to simply hear him on his own. His compositions are titled as “Modul"s because their building blocks are meant to be adaptable to any number of different combinations or band lineups, and they're no less fascinating ...

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ECM Records Releases Nik Bärtsch's Mobile "Continuum" on CD and 2-LP

ECM Records Releases Nik Bärtsch's Mobile "Continuum" on CD and 2-LP

Source: Universal Music Group

Nik Bärtsch: piano, comp.; Sha: bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet; Kaspar Rast: drums, percussion; Nicolas Stocker: drums, tuned percussion Etienne Abelin: violin; Ola Sendecki: violin; David Schnee: viola; Solme Hong: cello; Ambrosius Huber: cello After three studio albums [Stoa (2006), Holon (2008) and Lyria (2010) plus one live- double-CD (2012)] with his electric band Ronin, Swiss keyboardist/composer Nik Bärtsch now presents a new album with his original group Mobile (whose line-up overlaps with the current Ronin cast). Mobile, originally founded ...



Pianist/Composer Nik Bartsch Interviewed at All About Jazz

Pianist/Composer Nik Bartsch Interviewed at All About Jazz

Source: All About Jazz

Pianist and composer Nik Bärtsch would be the first to recognize that he is no revolutionary, as his aesthetic vision draws inspiration from multiple sources, ranging from 20th century classical music to funk, and from Japanese ritual music to minimalism. The distillation of all these sounds results in a music that invites meditation and at the same time urges you to move to the groove—something of a feat, it has to be said. Whether or not Bärtsch's group, Ronin, has ...



Nik Bartsch's Ronin - Llyria (2010)

Nik Bartsch's Ronin - Llyria (2010)

Source: Something Else!

By Pico It's ritual groove music time again. The Swiss pianist and bandleader Nik Bärtsch has broken musical ground with his Ronin outfit, pioneering jazz that's melodically sparse and rhythmically robust. Not dance music but very funky, not piano bar jazz but very soothing, Bärtsch and his crew create paradoxes that resolve themselves artfully. I first got a chance to investigate this signature style Bärtsch calls “ritual groove music" when the group released its second ECM album Holon back in ...



Ronin Rhythm Records Announces June 1 Digital Releases

Ronin Rhythm Records Announces June 1 Digital Releases

Source: Lori Hehr Public Relations

Ronin Rhythm Records brings its complete back catalog to the digital download platform in collaboration with Iapetus Distribution/Unsung Records. Seven titles are being released digitally on the June 1, 2009 via most major download stores such as iTunes, emusic, Amazon, etc. Ronin Rhythm Records is a platform for new creative music covering New Minimal, Funk and Ritual Groove Music. The label was founded in 2006 on the base of pianist and composer Nik Bartsch's pre-ECM albums and is dedicated to ...

Clemens Rofner
bass, acoustic
band / ensemble / orchestra
guitar, acoustic
Sebastien Pittet
bass, electric



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


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