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Jazz, Zen, and Hip-Hop: The 2019 Montreal Jazz Festival

Read "Jazz, Zen, and Hip-Hop: The 2019 Montreal Jazz Festival" reviewed by Matt Hooke

Exploring the grounds of the Montreal Jazz Festival is like going to all you can eat Las Vegas buffet. “Look over there at table four; there's Dixieland. Wait at table six, there's Latin jazz, supposedly the main table as a new head chef, let's go there." You can stuff yourself by going to more than ten concerts during a single 13-hour day at the festival. The best part is that all of the outdoor concerts, over ...

RADIO

Jazz Crescendos Galore!

Read "Jazz Crescendos Galore!" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu

When creating a radio playlist one always has to make sure to sequence songs in a meaningful way. The dynamics of their interaction is critical. There should be not too many fast pieces played back to back, nor too many ballads one after the other. Fast and slow, soft and loud should be sequenced in a logical manner. Ideally, leading to a climax through one or more crescendos of songs. This week we have decided to create ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin At The Bop Stop

Read "Nik Bärtsch's Ronin At The Bop Stop" reviewed by Matt Hooke

Nik Bartsch's Ronin Bop Stop Cleveland, Ohio October 28, 2018 The way Nik Bärtsch dresses reveals a lot about his music. He steps up to the piano wearing a Samue, the traditional dress of Zen Buddhist monks, and sneakers. One represents a spiritual tradition thousands of years old, requiring the utmost discipline and training to master. The later represents modern casual fun. His Samue reflects the time he spent in a Japanese monastery, the sneakers ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Dazzle

Read "Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Dazzle" reviewed by Geoff Anderson

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin Dazzle Denver, CO October 24, 2018 “Zen Funk." That's how Nik Bärtsch describes his music. “Zen:" the seeking of true enlightenment, often through meditation. “Funk:" a highly rhythmic, syncopated form of music. Zen Funk, yeah, that's it. The funk ranges from subtle to structural to urgent. The repetitive nature of the funk lines can be trance-inducing, leading to a meditative state which, of course, leads to true enlightenment. ...

RADIO

Szun Waves, other new releases and some archive cuts

Read "Szun Waves, other new releases and some archive cuts" reviewed by Bob Osborne

Blurring the boundaries between jazz, ambience and electronica, the sophomore album from Szun Waves New Hymn to Freedom, is the album of the week on the show. This new release is a document of six entirely live improvisations with “no edits or overdubs." The album title is apt, it is jazz, but it also bedded in the British electronic tradition, creating a refreshing new sound. The show also focuses on Guillermo McGill and Marion Brown with two tracks ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Nik Bärtsch: Awase

Read "Awase" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

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

Read "Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Constellation in Chicago" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

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

Read "Nik Bärtsch's Ronin at World Cafe Live" reviewed by Geno Thackara

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

Read "Nik Bärtsch's Ronin at (Le) Poisson Rouge" reviewed by Tyran Grillo

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) ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Awase

Read "Awase" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

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

Read "Nik Bärtsch: Possibility in Paradox" reviewed by Geno Thackara

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

Read "ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017" reviewed by Tyran Grillo

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 ...


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