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Articles | Featured | Future

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nik Bärtsch: Awase

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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 ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Constellation in Chicago

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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 ...

LIVE FROM PHILADELPHIA

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin at World Cafe Live

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Nik Bärtsch's Ronin World Cafe Live jny: Philadelphia, PA May 8, 2018 Of the oddest sights Philadelphia's art scene might offer on any given Tuesday night, a stern-faced figure in samurai hatama whacking a piano with a mallet should probably be in the top five. (Unless there's something like the Fringe Festival going on, in which case, maybe the top twenty.) To the unfamiliar, the music of Nik Bärtsch's Ronin may seem similarly odd and ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin at (Le) Poisson Rouge

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Nik Bärtsch's Ronin (Le) Poisson Rouge New York, NY May 6, 2018 On May 6, 2018, Swiss pianist and composer Nik Bärtsch brought his refashioned Ronin outfit to New York City. The band's name comes from the word meaning “masterless samurai," and indeed listeners can't help but feel that Bärtsch and his melodic warriors have gone rogue for so long that their footprints are practically indistinguishable. At the way station known as (Le) ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Awase

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After “Modul 60," the reflective and tranquil opener to Awase, from pianist Nik Bärtsch's groove-metric quartet Ronin, “Modul 58" comes at you with such an insistence and power that it leaves you, after its persistent eighteen minutes, catching your breath, marveling at how you went from zero to mach 10 in the blink of an eye. Bärtsch describes the music of Ronin--featuring bass clarinet/alto saxophonist Sha, bassist Thomy Jordi, and drummer Kasper Rast--as “Zen Funk" or “Ritual Groove ...

INTERVIEWS

Nik Bärtsch: Possibility in Paradox

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Like the master-less samurai his primary band is named for, Nik Bärtsch forges a path and follows a code all his own. The pianist's music is best described by his own key phrases “ritual groove music" and “Zen funk," merging Eastern minimalist simplicity and patient trance with the interplay and communal aspect of jazz. It makes for a bundle of seeming contradictions: steadily repetitive and ever-changing, precise yet improvisational, highly cerebral and body-movingly catchy, it develops structures of sometimes breathtaking ...

LIVE REVIEWS

ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017

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ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017 Tishman Auditorium, The New School New York City January 7, 2017 Music has been a comfort in troubling times ever since there were humans to bring about troubles to begin with. Rare, however, is that music which seeks not only to placate but also demonstrate. The world of ECM Records, insofar as it has come to be defined through nearly five decades of mapping, demonstrates in every sense ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile at the Rubin Museum of Art

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Nik Bärtsch's Mobile Rubin Museum of Art New York, NY May 6, 2016 When is music a ritual? A relevant question in regard to pianist and composer Nik Bärtsch, one of few modern musicians to live out his worldview in every thought and action. His “Ronin" project laid fresh tracks in the vast network of ECM Records--no small feat considering the label's diverse, decades-long locomotion. But behind Ronin's curtain, in his native Zürich, ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Nik Bartsch's Mobile at The Rubin Museum of Art

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Nik Bärtsch's Mobile Rubin Museum Of Art New York, NY May 6, 2016 Having seen Nik Bärtsch's Ronin live (albeit eight years ago), listened to Continuum and read the detailed review which notes the differences between the groups, did not lessen the impact of Mobile in concert. The venue was perfect--a small auditorium which held about three hundred, facing a raised stage. There, the Mobile quartet was arranged with Nik ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Continuum

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Few musicians have continued to hone a concept as singularly unique and instantly recognizable, irrespective of context, as that being explored by Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch since he first formed Mobile with Don Li, Kaspar Rast and Mats Eser in 1997. First emerging on record in 2001 with Ritual Groove Music (Self-Released, reissued Ronin Rhythm, 2006), Bärtsch has evolved three very different contexts with which to explore the confluence of trance-inducing minimalist elements with rigorous, ritualistic compositional constructs, a deep ...