Album info



Label: ECM

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Modern Jazz

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)

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  • 1Modul 41-17 - Lörrach16:38
  • 2Modul 35 - Leipzig11:31
  • 3Modul 42 - Wien08:09
  • 4Modul 17 - Tokyo08:58
  • 5Modul 22 - Amsterdam14:45
  • 6Modul 45 - Mannheim13:11
  • 7Modul 48 - Gateshead08:37
  • 8Modul 47 - Mannheim13:11
  • 9Modul 55 - Salzau10:00
  • Total Runtime01:45:00

Info for LIVE

Ronin around the world: a powerful and atmospheric concert recording with music captured in Germany, Austria, Holland, England, and Japan, a double-album which transmits the live impact of Nik Bärtsch’s band and its enveloping modular groove music of interlocking rhythms. It’s also a set that marks the end of an era and the transition into a new one. These are the last recordings of Ronin with Björn Meyer’s elegantly-leaping bass guitar as one of the lead voices, and Bärtsch views the album as partly a tribute to Meyer’s long tenure with the band. New bassist Thomy Jordi, meanwhile, makes an impressive entrance on “Modul 55”, but it’s most often the whole band, as a unified field of force, that commands the listener’s attention.

A concert is a meditative and explosive form of collaboration. Everyone present is responsible for its success; they create focus and energise the listening experience, ready for excitement, if their joint efforts can conjure up the musical spirits.

The antique Greek amphitheatre of Epidauros was integrated into its environs so that the listeners’ attention would be fully concentrated on the stage, thus turning the communal live experience under the starry sky into a universal focal point of emotions.

This atmosphere is central for every concert; its own sense of time unfolds as the space becomes a kind of acoustical coral reef. Like light in water, sounds and resonances appear in the air; strange creatures seem to swim by our ears – where are we, when we hear music?

From the outset, Ronin has considered itself a socio_musical entity, as well as a live band, one feeding from the concert situation and the audi­ ence’s energy; in the same way as rediscovering the phrasing, the sound, the dynamics and the actual progress of the concert each time, the group must find new contact with the audience at every concert.

At one of our first concerts (it was in a underground club), a dog began to howl just before a climactic moment. The reaction was the same as if a master of ceremonies, a singer or a listener had screamed; the band was unleashed and played its way into a trance as the audience immediately relaxed and became more attentive. Although the moment was funny in a sense, the energy level in the room rocketed.

Neighborhood dogs don’t attend our concerts much anymore; instead, people from all over the world are in our audiences, each with their own special presence and unique lifelong listening experience. So our audiences have the same effect on the band as a producer in a recording studio, listening both critically and enthusiastically; the one and the other make for an exciting mix. After all, music only exists if someone hears it – and that influences its gestalt. Musical empathy is an evolutionary quality, extending from the time long before we became humans – and that is why communal music_ making is no luxury; it is existentially vital.

We have chosen nine pieces from more than fifty concerts recorded during the last three years which, we believe, are compelling in their diversity, originating in venues from Lörrach to Tokyo.

Our thanks go to our audiences for helping us make our concerts live. (Nik Bärtsch)

Nik Bärtsch, piano & Fender Rhodes
Sha, bass clarinets & alto saxophone
Björn Meyer, bass
Thomy Jordi, bass (on track Modul 55)
Kaspar Rast, drums
Andi Pupato, percussion

Recorded live 2009 – 2011
Recording engineer: Andi Pupato
Mixed at Studios La Buissonne, Pernes_les_Fontaines by Gérard de Haro, Romain Castera (engineers), Nik Bärtsch, Manfred Eicher
Mastering: Nicolas Baillard
Album produced by Manfred Eicher

Nik Bärtsch
RITUAL GROOVE MUSIC, the title of my first CD, also points to the fundamental concept of my musical thinking. The music shows a close affinity to architecturally organized space and is governed by the principles of repetition and reduction as well as by interlocking rhythms. A piece of music can be entered, inhabited like a room. It moves forward and transforms through obsessive circular movements, superimposition of different meters and micro-interplay. The listeners attention is directed toward minimal variations and phrasing. The band becomes an integral organism - like an animal, a habitat, an urban space. One must think with ears and hands.

Normally, we work in three distinct formations. The group MOBILE plays purely acoustic music, performed in rituals of up to 36 hours, including light- and room design. The Zen-funk quartet RONIN, by contrast, is more flexible and plays the compositions more freely. As a solo performer I perform my compositions on prepared piano with percussion.

Despite the tightly organized compositional construction, improvisation plays an important role in our music. On the one hand, accentuation, ghost notes, and variations within a composition are tossed back and forth between the musicians; on the other hand, a particular voice within a composition might have more freedom than the others. In doing so, that voice forms an independent module that can interact with the strictly notated interlocking patterns in continuously changing ways. Groove-habitats or void musical space of raw poetry emerge.

My thinking and music are based on the tradition of urban space. They are not distilled from a national or stylistic tradition but from the universal sound of cities. The city in its roaring diversity requires an ability to focus and concentrate on the essential: to measure one’s actions, to remain silent at the right place. This music draws its energy from the tension between compositional precision and the self-circumvention of improvisation. From self-implied restriction stems freedom. Ecstasy through asceticism.

was born in 1983. He is a composer and plays the saxophone and the bass clarinet. Among his teachers are Don Li, Nik Bärtsch, Sujay Bobade and Bänz Oester. Sha studied at the Jazz School in Lucerne and graduated with a double master with distinction. He is the leader of his own band 'Sha's Feckel' (till 2011 of 'Sha's Banryu'). Sha has worked with Walter Grimmer, Michael Gassmann, Philipp Schaufelberger, Anja Losinger and Claudio Puntin.

Andi Pupato
Andi was born in 1971 in Zurich. He studied percussion in Zurich, later at the Escuela de superación profesional de musica Ignacio Cervantes in Havana, Cuba and with José Luis “Changuito” in Quintana. In 1994, Andi went to Senegal with the Senegalese master drummer Kounta’s band 'Dougou-Fana', where he studied traditional African percussion. At present, he works as a percussionist for various national and international bands (with Andreas Vollenweider among others) and is an active studio musician.

Kaspar Rast
Kaspar was born in 1972 in Zurich. He has been playing drums since the age of 6. Education as violinmaker. Trained at the JMS in Zurich and the Drummers Collective in New York. Kaspar’s list of concerts and tours covers Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America. He works in various Swiss musical formations (also in Sha's band 'Sha's Feckel') and projects, plays sessions and acts as a studio musician.

Thomy Jordi
Thomy was born 1963 in Zurich. He studied double bass at the Swiss Jazz School and electric bass at the MIT Hollywood with Jeff Berlin. He was part of the swiss punkjazz-movement in the early 80's and toured Europe with freefunk-bands like Donkey Kongs Multiscream and The Intergalactic Maidenballet. In 1988 Thomy moved to Berlin, where he had the chance to perform and record with local and international Worldmusic artists. He also got involved with the german pop-scene. Thomy played the bass for Rosenstolz on most of their albums and toured with them from 2002 to 2009. He was also a member of genius comedian-musician Helge Schneider's Rock project The Firefuckers. Zurich-based songwriter Adrian Weyermann invited Thomy to join his band in 2006. Nik Baertsch met Thomy in 2004 in Tokyo, Japan, where he studied Japanese. Back in his hometown, Thomy started to frequently sit in with Nik Baertsch's RONIN on Mondays. In sommer 2011 bassist RONIN's original bass player Björn Meyer left the band on friendly terms and Thomy replaced him. Except being a member of RONIN, he is working with Adrian Stern and teaching at the conservatories in Luzern and Basel.

Booklet for LIVE

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