All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

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

Related Articles

Read Bobby Zankel's Warriors Play Muhal Richard Abrams at October Revolution Live Reviews
Bobby Zankel's Warriors Play Muhal Richard Abrams at...
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 16, 2018
Read Dave Burrell Full-Blown Trio at October Revolution Festival Live Reviews
Dave Burrell Full-Blown Trio at October Revolution Festival
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 14, 2018
Read Not Two...But Twenty! Festival Live Reviews
Not Two...But Twenty! Festival
by John Sharpe
Published: October 13, 2018
Read The Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda at Fringearts Live Reviews
The Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda at Fringearts
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 13, 2018
Read Paul Simon at Flushing Meadows Corona Park Live Reviews
Paul Simon at Flushing Meadows Corona Park
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: October 13, 2018
Read Andrea Clearfield Salon: 32 Year Anniversary Celebration Live Reviews
Andrea Clearfield Salon: 32 Year Anniversary Celebration
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 12, 2018
Read "Damo Suzuki & Electric Octopus at The Menagerie" Live Reviews Damo Suzuki & Electric Octopus at The Menagerie
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 26, 2018
Read "Lionel Loueke Trio at A-Trane" Live Reviews Lionel Loueke Trio at A-Trane
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: February 26, 2018
Read "Edgefest 2017: Give the Drummers Some, Part 1-2" Live Reviews Edgefest 2017: Give the Drummers Some, Part 1-2
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Sligo Jazz Project 2018: Days 1-2" Live Reviews Sligo Jazz Project 2018: Days 1-2
by James Fleming
Published: August 18, 2018