22/10/2013 at 20:00 &TD Big Hall

Duration: 90 min / Free entrance



With the zen-funk quartet RONIN founded in 2001, Zürich composer and pianist Nik Bärtsch proceeds with the work on his RITUAL GROOVE MUSIC, together with Kaspar Rast (drums), Sha (bass- and contrabass clarinet, alto sax) and Thomy Jordi (bass, replaced Björn Meyer in 2011. Percussionist Andi Pupato was a band member 2002-2012). Their music consistently follows the same aesthetic vision under various instrumental guises: creating the maximum effect by minimal means. In addition to its tours and performances, for six years RONIN has held a concert every Monday evening at its own club in Zürich - since 2009 at the club EXIL cofounded by Nik Bärtsch. This longterm experiment encourages and demands constant musical evolution – the result of interaction, attentive listening, and critical, even ironic musical and verbal dialogue. On these Mondays the musicians eat and play together. In this way RONIN has, over the years, independently created its own phraseology and proceeded blithely but consistently on its own path as a socio-musical organism. Nik Bärtsch as the band’s composer precisely sets down most of the pieces in notation; but in live performances it becomes, at some point, impossible to tell what is composed, interpreted or improvised. The band has to discover the right tension and the suitable dramatic structure for a piece on the spur of the moment. The band-organism thus outwits not only the composition, but itself. In this way RONIN works politely but radical and in the long run on a collective phrasing which cannot be captured in notation. It can only be gained through training and patience, through mutual respect and interest, through the ability to resonate with each other. Then familiar phrases, curious and vivid turns of phrase, webs of ghost notes and rhythmic punch lines will arise as if by themselves.

Despite the multiplicity of the band’s influences, Ronin’s music always possesses a strong individuality. They incorporate elements of disparate musical worlds, be they funk, new classical music or sounds from Japanese ritual music. However, these forms are never merely juxtaposed in a postmodernist fashion but instead amalgamated into a coherent new style. Ultimately, these sounds and rhythms are highly idiosyncratic. The music consists of very few phrases and motives, continually combined and layered in new ways. Ronin thus creates a consistent aesthetic across all levels of musical expression. Composition, phrasing, sound structure, performance, and musical form all combine to form a system of interrelated elements. (Michel Mettler)

The Wall Street Journal has chosen RONIN’s live show as one of the six best live shows in 2011 (together with Björk, Radiohead, Patti Smith, Feist and Anna Calvi).