S T O A

CD  Released On: May 02, 2006
Released By: ECM

release description

Part jazz and part classic minimalism, Nik Bärtsch's Ronin brings us their debut release S T O A that will take the listener on a musical journey of organic textures and dynamic rhythms and beats.

Born in Zürich, Nik Bärtsch studied jazz piano for nine years, beginning his classical studies only at 16. After getting his diploma from the Zürich Musikhochschule he went on to study philosophy, linguistics and musicology at the University of Zürich, simultaneously freelancing in diverse bands, "playing everything from fusion to free-funk, and all kinds of extroverted jazz". At the same time his curiosity in modern composition was growing, especially in John Cage and Morton Feldman. As this interest in composition developed, the desire to play live-jazz evolved, later leading to Bärtsch launching Ronin.

Featuring interlocking rhythms and modular, repetitive constructions, Ronin plays what Bärtsch calls "Zen-funk," a label intended to be descriptive and provocative. Hard to classify, the Ronin band's sound amounts to a whole new musical concept that "throbs with a pulsating dynamism that's almost hypnotic" (Stuart Nicholson - The Observer). With their debut release, S T O A, Nik Bärtsch introduces the world to his unique brand of music. Most of the pieces on S T O A are through-composed such as "Modul 35" which was rigorously written, "like a classical piece that could realistically be given to another ensemble to play." However, there is also some improvisational freedom and interpretive leeway such as the introduction of "Modul 36" with Björn Meyer's bass and Bärtsch's "overtone chords." What this makes for is an album Chris May of Allaboutjazz.com notes "James Brown might have made if he'd appointed Steve Reich musical director of the Famous Flames, though without the satin cape and the extremes of primal emotion. It's minimalism, Jim, but not as we know it: simultaneously cerebral and on the good foot."

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press

"But what he's come up with amounts to a whole new musical concept. This is music that throbs with a pulsating dynamism that's almost hypnotic." — Stuart Nicholson (The Observer)

"Some of the most subversive and enjoyable music I have heard in quite a while." — Budd Kopman (AllAbout Jazz.com)