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REVIEW: Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin @ Alberta Rose/PDX Jazz Fest (Portland, OR – 2/25/11)

1st Mar 11 (Tue) 2 comments

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:

Next show for me… Damien Jurado & Viva Voce at Doug Fir Lounge on Friday, 3/4.

~Dan – np: Mike PattonA Perfect Place

NIK BARTSCH PDX JAZZ FEST PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

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Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin (PDX Jazz Fest)

26th Feb 11 (Sat) Leave a comment

Last night’s Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin show at the Alberta Rose Theatre as part of the 2011 Portland Jazz Festival last night was amazing… due to work and other commitments, I won’t be able to edit and post the photos until probably Monday or Tuesday.  UPDATE: the review is live now, sorry about the delay.

(more coming soon)

Check back sometime next week!

~Dan

Nik Bartsch’s Ronin @ PDX Jazz Fest (2/25)

22nd Feb 11 (Tue) Leave a comment

If you missed your chance to get tickets to see Grammy-winning ‘Best New Artist’ Esperanza Spalding on Friday, February 25th at the Portland Jazz Fest.  Well, you’re out of luck – unless you can win some or find a reasonable scalper.

My choice for PDX Jazz Fest’s Feb 25th offering was always Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin anyway!  That show is Friday, February 25th – 8:30pm, Alberta Rose Theater.

Nik Bärtsch is a Swiss pianist & composer.  His albums with his band Ronin are more on the rock/funk side of the jazz continuum, and on record, it is stunning.  I can’t wait to see him live.

Check out some Ronin sound samples on Amazon (click the album covers below):

And lucky for you, tickets are still available!!  Find out how to get tickets HERE.

~Dan – np: Nik Bärtsch’s RoninHolon

PDX Jazz Photo Wrap-up

2nd Mar 10 (Tue) Leave a comment

As mentioned earlier, there is a Flickr stream for all official Portland Jazz Festival 2010 photos by Fran Kaufman.  Check them out, they capture various aspects of the fest from shows, jam sessions, interviews, et cetera…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pdxjazz/
(click link for larger photos)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pdxjazz/
(photos by Fran Kaufman)

And if you missed it, check out my reviews for Dave Holland Quintet (2/27), Pharoah Sanders (2/28), and Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy (2/28).  It was a truly fantastic weekend.  Also check out Oregon Music News’ complete coverage

Stay tuned to http://www.pdxjazz.com/.  Sign up for their mailing list and be there for next year’s fest!

~Dan – np: First Meeting (Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, etc) – Cut the Rope 

REVIEW: Dave Douglas @ PDX Jazz Fest (Portland, OR – 2/28/10)

1st Mar 10 (Mon) 5 comments

Right on the heels of Portland Jazz Fest‘s Dave Holland Quintet and Pharoah Sanders, was Dave Douglas and his Brass Ecstasy band – the capper to the festival.  I’d seen Dave Douglas four times before, twice with John Zorn‘s Masada quartet and twice with SF Jazz Collective (with Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenon and others).  I was looking forward to seeing my first show with Dave Douglas as primary bandleader.

This new band of his features Dave Douglas on trumpet, Vincent Chancey on french horn, Luis Bonilla on trombone, Marcus Rojas on tuba, and Nasheet Waits on drums.  Their debut album, Spirit Moves, came out last year, and it was in my Top 5 Instrumental Albums from 2009.  Go get it!

They hit the stage shortly after 7:30pm and went right into the title track from their record, “Spirit Moves.”  It’s a fun number and a great start to the set.  Right after that, they did a lengthy version of “Bowie,” which is dedicated to Lester Bowie.  It was fun to see that song breathe and take over the room.  I’m also impressed by Luis Bonilla’s soloing on it.  It has to be difficult to solo on a trombone…

The trombone, horn, and definitely tuba drive the sound of this band to a familiar New Orleans street band – which I’d imagine was what Dave Douglas was aiming his sights towards.  Marcus Rojas also did some “tuba beat boxing” to mix things up.

I knew all of the songs they played, but luckily Dave announced them from the stage (yay, I didn’t have to keep them all up in my head)…

Setlist: about 90 minutes

  • Spirit Moves
  • Bowie
  • I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams)
  • Fats
  • Rava
  • Awake Nu (Don Cherry)
  • The Brass Ring (with drum solo)
  • Mr Pitiful (Otis Redding)
  • Encore: Twilight of the Dogs

All members got their fair share of solos.  The drum solo on “The Brass Ring” was fantastic, and Dave Douglas’s trumpet solos were colorful and vibrant, as usual.  Favorites of the night were the bebop of “Fats,” and the acrobatic trumpet on “Rava.”  Dave played a lot of that song off mic, yet his sound carried throughout the room.  Thank you Portland Jazz Fest!  It was a wonderful weekend of great music.  See you next year!

I took a few iPhone photos.  I wish I was able to bring in my regular camera, as I was right up front and the iPhone only takes marginal photos at best (::sigh::).  Anyway, check out my photos below, or check the link at the bottom for PDX Jazz’s Flickr photo stream.

DAVE DOUGLAS’ BRASS ECSTASY PHOTOS
these pictures are (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

For photos from this and other PDX Jazz shows, check out PDX Jazz’s flickr stream:



(photos by Fran Kaufman)

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Susie Ibarra & Roberto RodriguezElectric Kulintang

REVIEW: Pharoah Sanders @ PDX Jazz Fest (Portland, OR – 2/28/10)

1st Mar 10 (Mon) 4 comments

So, Pharoah Sanders is a legend.  He’s played with jazz great John Coltrane, and his tenor sax work has eclipsed those around him.  Free-jazzmaster Ornette Coleman referred to Pharoah as “probably the best tenor player in the world.”  He has a large swath of albums over the past 5 decades.  Passing up an afternoon concert at this year’s Portland Jazz Fest wasn’t an option. :)

I was just at the Newmark Theatre the night prior for the smokin’ Dave Holland Quintet show.  My seat for Pharoah was is almost the exact same spot (L12 versus L11).  I got a good spot right in the middle to check out Pharoah’s band: William Henderson on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, and Justin Faulkner on drums.  After a short introduction, the band hit the stage – Pharoah in a bright purple shirt…

The feel of the show was all over the place.  When Pharoah first started, it was quite remarkable.  He doesn’t play in straight lines, but your mind tends to connect those lines right as his sax is connecting them for you.  He seemed very much like a songbird who was free to sing what he wanted – but still very melodic.  He was very much like a bridge between John Coltrane and the more free-jazz Ornette Coleman.

They started off the show with a 25+ minute “My Favorite Things.”  Most of the rest of the 2+ hour show was the power trio of piano/bass/drums playing with Pharoah walking on and off stage and jumping in where he saw fit.  His long disappearances were interesting, but a 70 year old jazz legend can do whatever he wants. :)  On three of the songs, Portland (now New Orleans) saxophonist Devon Phillips came up and joined the band.

They played 6 or 7 tunes, and ended the show with an encore of “Save Our Children,” sung by Pharoah.  2 hours in total… utterly brilliant work from this master and his great band.

For photos from this and other PDX Jazz shows, check out PDX Jazz’s flickr stream:

(photos by Fran Kaufman)

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: David Bazan – Curse Your Branches

REVIEW: Dave Holland @ PDX Jazz (Portland, OR – 2/27/10)

28th Feb 10 (Sun) 5 comments

I got into Dave Holland around the same time as a lot of other jazz.  I got into jazz through the backdoor (John Zorn) and then slowly moved into the more straight ahead jazz.  I think I can officially blame Ken Laster and his In the Groove, Jazz and Beyond podcast for playing a lot of Dave Holland.  Anyway, shortly after hearing Holland, I picked up Extended Play: Live at Birdland and Critical Mass.  Both are great, but the latter is quite fetching.  When I found out he was one of the headliners at this year’s Portland Jazz Fest, I was stoked.

I was equally stoked that he’d be bringing saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Nate Smith with him.  I saw Chris & Nate play in Cincinnati a few years back, and I loved both of them but was quite entranced with Nate’s drumming.  His flow and style are a sight to behold.

Well, on to the show…

I missed PDX Jazz Fest last year.  I was deeply entrenched in busy season at work (I’m a CPA), and perhaps there wasn’t as big of a draw in 2009 as in 2008 (SF Jazz Collective and Ornette Coleman).  2010, well, that’s another story… as I ended up staying the night to catch two shows on Sunday, too (check back for the Pharoah Sanders and Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy reviews on Monday).  Anyway, no cameras allowed.  I took a couple with my iPhone, but they didn’t come out all that well; so, yeah, I’m not posting them.

The band went on around 7:40pm after a short introduction.  The band was Dave Holland on upright bass, the aforementioned Chris Potter (sax) and Nate Smith (drums), along with Alex Sipiagin on trumpet and Steve Nelson on vibes.  The first thing I noted was how Dave’s bass really breathed.  There’s a reason why he’s a heavyweight in the jazz world.  His tone, his swing, his lyricism – all very prevalent.

They started off with “Step To It,” which started with Nate Smith drumming barehanded and featured a massive Chris Potter solo, and was capped off with a great gentle back and forth between Dave and Nate.  Here’s how it all went down last night…

Setlist: 95 minutes

  • Step To It
  • Last Minute Men
  • Looking Up
  • Cosmosis
  • Make Believe
  • Free For All
  • Encore: Easy Did It

“Cosmosis” and the encore “Easy Did It” both featured great Dave Holland solos.  On “Free For All,” Nate Smith drum solo was quite playful.  He was going all out, and actually lost one of his drumsticks amidst his free for all.  I haven’t mentioned Alex or Steve yet… both were great, but didn’t seem to take as many solos as Chris or Nate.  Alex’s few solos were superb.  I love some good trumpet music (hence my Sunday plans for Dave Douglas).  Steve’s vibe work was great, moreso as a back-up for the band (his solos didn’t do much for me).  I think as far as a quintet goes, I’d opt for piano over vibes (especially with an already powerful drummer on the stage).

All in all, Dave Holland reaffirmed his place with me as a force to reckon with.  They played over an hour and half, and it seemed like it was about 20 minutes.  It totally flew by and was highly energetic.  I hope he brings this band around sometime soon!

For photos from this and other PDX Jazz shows, check out PDX Jazz’s flickr stream:


(photos by Fran Kaufman)

Well, off to the next show, Damien Jurado across town at the Mississippi Studios

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy – Spirit Moves

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