1

Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Constellation in Chicago

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin
Constellation
Chicago, IL
May 10, 2018

On May 10th 2018, Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch brought his quartet, Ronin to Chicago's Constellation. In the venue's intimate studio B the ensemble stretched out on material from its latest album to date, the sublime Awase (ECM, 2018). It kept the close to 200-member audience captivated with their collective performance.

Bärtsch opened the concert with tolling notes from the piano strings. Multireed player Sha (Stefan Haslebacher) followed almost immediately with a contemplative, breathy bass clarinet. Together they created a cinematic ambience that drummer Kaspar Rast enhanced with his splashing cymbals while bassist Thomy Jordi contributed a dark and expectant undercurrent. The crystalline melodic refrains out of which this superb composition was constructed resonated and echoed hauntingly, thanks to Constellation's acoustic environment. Seamlessly the music transformed into a fiery and melancholic tune that was simultaneously riotous and disciplined. The overlapping solos were underscored by the flashing and color changes of the stage lights.

After a bout of loud applause, Bärtsch introduced his sidemen and commenced the mystical second piece of the evening with eastern lyricism. The band did not stay in this ethereal atmosphere long as it launched into an explosive and funky interplay with plenty of soul. Rast thundered on his drums while Bärtsch used mallets to coax eerie yet earthy tones from the piano. Meanwhile Sha's muscular saxophone complemented Jordy's swaggering basslines.

A standing ovation brought back the group for two encores. Both tunes kept the complex and thrilling, almost acrobatic, synergy among the four men without sacrificing the raw energy and the virtuosic spontaneity.

Over an immensely satisfying hour and a half Bärtsch and Ronin showcased their trademark style and unique musicianship. They successfully balanced individual expressiveness with a multilayered group sound and angular structure with ad lib passion. They even inspired an artist who had set up a small workspace in the corner to paint abstract and colorful tableaus.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

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

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Aug15Thu
Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin
Smida Park
Smida, Romania

Related Articles

Read Montreux Jazz Festival 2019 Live Reviews
Montreux Jazz Festival 2019
By Martin McFie
July 18, 2019
Read Jazz At Juan 2019 Live Reviews
Jazz At Juan 2019
By Martin McFie
July 18, 2019
Read Summer Jazz and Fringe Jazz Fest 2019 Live Reviews
Summer Jazz and Fringe Jazz Fest 2019
By Jakob Baekgaard
July 17, 2019
Read North Sea Round Town 2019 Live Reviews
North Sea Round Town 2019
By Henning Bolte
July 17, 2019
Read Kiefer Sutherland at Irving Plaza Live Reviews
Kiefer Sutherland at Irving Plaza
By Mike Perciaccante
July 13, 2019
Read Dionne Warwick with Special Guest Darlene Love at NYCB Theatre at Westbury Live Reviews
Dionne Warwick with Special Guest Darlene Love at NYCB Theatre at Westbury
By Christine Connallon
July 13, 2019