REVIEW: Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin @ Alberta Rose/PDX Jazz Fest (Portland, OR – 2/25/11)
FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM
Despite Grammy-winner Esperanza Spalding going on at the same night as part of Portland Jazz Fest 2011, I wasn’t going to miss Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin. I got into Ronin with 2006’s Stoa. Nik’s way of creative a funky, piano-based jazz setting captured my attention. And being from Switzerland, the chances to see Ronin are few and far between (their U.S. Tour consisted of four dates: Oakland, Portland, Knoxville & New York). First, the opener…
First up was Portland’s own Blue Cranes. I had heard of them, and I was glad to make it to the club early enough to catch their set. Great reed-driven quartet. They started out with a guest sax player and a string trio (with Anna Fritz, whom I’ve seen/heard before). They were genteel at first, but also drove the tempo up with some raucous solos and melodies.
Songs I caught the names of their hour-long set (I missed the opening song’s name): Love Love Love (by Wayne Horvitz), Hated Because of Great Qualities (by Blonde Redhead), Grandpa’s Hands (featuring toy piano), Beware of the Pneumatic Nailer, Soldier (with strings), Ritchie Bros., and Maddie Mae. Sha from Ronin joined them on-stage for a number as well. They’re heading out on an 30-day Amtrack tour soon… kicking off March 19th @ Tony Starlight‘s in Portland.
RONIN is Nik Bärtsch on piano, Kaspar Rast on drums, Andi Pupato on percussion, Sha on the alto and bass clarinet, and Thomy Jordi on bass. Their latest album, Llyrìa, came out on ECM in October 2010 and features what Nik calls “moduls.”
A “modul” is an unnamed, but numbered musical entities that can be woven together. Per Nik (in his interview with Oregon Music News), “when a module combination makes dramaturgically and formally sense and creates a coherent piece, I give a number to it.”
Friday’s show was primarily pulled from the moduls in Llyrìa. Interwoven, interlocking, overlapping pieces played through the air as the dimly, strategically lit stage changed to fit the sounds. Color and music formed an fantastic audio and visual masterpiece. The moduls started with a slow rumble and grew and warped throughout their long set. Very much jazz-centric, but also many elements of rock, funk, and progressive music. The PDX Jazz Fest brought Nik to town in 2008, but I’m hoping it doesn’t have to be another three years before we get to see this amazing live act again in Oregon.
more photos below
The Appropriate Linkage:
- Nik Bärtsch’s Site
- Nik Bärtsch’s Social Media Links (see below)
- Blue Crane’s Site
- Blue Crane’s Facebook / MySpace / Twitter
- My Other Related Reviews~
- Portland Jazz Fest’s Site / Facebook / Twitter
- Alberta Rose Theatre’s Site / Facebook / Twitter
Next show for me… Damien Jurado & Viva Voce at Doug Fir Lounge on Friday, 3/4.
NIK BARTSCH PDX JAZZ FEST PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution