Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin

October 19th, 2012

Friday night at Poncho Concert Hall, Cornish College, Earshot Jazz Festival 2012 presented the Swiss ECM pianist Nik Bärtsch, who  lead his polished ensemble in complex explorations of tone and rhythm: progressive jazz at its most engaging, with Kaspar Rast (drums), Thomy Jordi (bass) and Sha (bass clarinet, alto saxophone).

Click on the schedule here 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival  continues.

Three of Ronin’s ECM albums – Stoa (2005), Holon (2007) and Llyrìa (2010) – have been recorded in the studio. Now, following extensive touring, Nik Bärtsch and ECM producer Manfred Eicher took live recordings of the band for a new double CD, Live. The release perfectly showcases the band’s hypnotic and dynamic performances from three years of touring European festivals and clubs.

With Ronin, each gig is a unique event with its own intentionality and sustained, insistent power. Composer-pianist Bärtsch likens the linked-mind interplay inside his unique group to a school of fish moving across a coral reef with lightning speed. From one acoustic space to another, this disciplined ECM quartet brings a focused playing, with hypnotically layered rhythms and certain parameters open to interpretation and improvisation.

“As the band’s composer, I precisely set down most of the pieces in notation, but in performance it becomes at some point impossible to tell what is composed, interpreted or improvised. The band has to discover the right tension and the suitable dramatic structure for a piece on the spur of the moment. The band-organism thus outwits not only the composition, but itself.”

Bärtsch acknowledges that the group fits no preconceived format: “Our music is somewhere between jazz and modern composition, progressive pop, ritual music, groove music in general.”

It somewhat takes its form from a minimalist aesthetic and gradual process.

– SH; courtesy ECM

Click on the schedule here 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival  continues.

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