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Published: 2012/12/18
by Ron Hart

Nik Bartsch's Ronin


For a solid decade, Switzerland’s jazz keyboard supreme Nik Bärtsch has led one of Europe’s most innovative and enigmatic jazz outfits in Ronin. This two-disc live anthology culls itself from select performances across the globe including the Enjoy Jazz, Leipziger Jazzstage and Jazz Baltica Festival of Germany to intimate club performances in Australia and Japan, with almost 50 recordings at their disposal. The finished product is nothing short of quintessential in its portrait of the band in action on the concert front, drawing from material off Bartsch’s trio of ECM LPs (2005’s Stoa, 2007’s Holon and 2010’s Liyna ). And the extra layer of groove the group tends to throw down on stage will give the listener (especially first timers) a keen indication of the distinictive voodoo loop that may remind some jazz fans of the subtle incidental music heard on the 70’s soundtracks scored by such greats as Roy Budd and Lalo Schifrin with a thinking man’s rhythm theory that offers a sly nod to the Warp Records catalog. For Ronin rookies, Live is the ultimate young person’s guide to the killer ensemble of this world-traveled “Rhodes” Scholar.

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