The Swiss pianist-composer Nik Bärtsch and his quartet Ronin display a protean minimalism that suggests architecture in motion. Big in Europe and Japan, natch, the self-characterized “Zen funk” group has honed its martial magic over the course of hundreds of Monday-night gigs in Zurich. With the departure of percussionist Andi Pupato and the replacement of longtime contrabassist Björn Mayer (featured on the band’s magisterial new ECM double-CD Live) with Thomy Jordi (from Helge Schneider’s Firefuckers) Ronin embodies the Heraclitean-Buddhist notion of constant change. Filled out by Sha (bass clarinet, sax) and Kaspar Rast (drums), the group’s dazzlingly deft ritualistic rigor and low-end incantations make every gig—especially on this side of the Atlantic—an event. If dancing in your head gets you off, you couldn’t do better.
Mon., Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m., 2012
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 17, 2012