Exposé Online banner

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin — Llyria
(ECM 2178, 2010, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Scott Steele, Published 2011-06-01

Llyria Cover art

The instrumentation for this highly regarded jazz quintet is soprano and alto saxophone and bass clarinet, piano, bass, drums, and percussion. Pianist Bärtsch is the adept leader and insightful composer of all seven songs. Reedsperson Sha has a beautiful tone and phrasing, and reminds us of many different saxophonists that we love, including Paul Desmond, Bennie Maupin, and Elton Dean. Bärtsch’s keyboard approach relies on ostinatos and syncopation to tell his compelling story. He never budges from the piano – no electronic keyboard sounds or Rhodes sounds here. At times, the acoustic keyboard is in service to the other percussion instruments, and then the piano dramatically re-asserts its place back into the foreground of the track. Bassist, percussionist, and drummer unite to form a seamless and highly convincing groove-net on pieces such as “Modul 52” and “Modul 47.” They seem capable of nearly every rhythmic style, from sweet brushes on the snare to strong strutting funk lines. Then, in direct contrast, they will disorient you sonically, lost in the black forest whirlpools of space on this disk. The music is open and subject to serene moments of beauty, as on “Modul 51.” People who enjoy Eberhard Weber, Jan Garbarek, Ranier Bruninghaus, “Vein Melter” by Herbie Hancock, Crimson Jazz Trio, The Bad Plus, Chick Corea in acoustic quartet mode, and/or any of Bill Bruford’s various Earthworks groups should make a point of hearing this recording.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 39, 2010 releases

Related artist(s): Nik Bärtsch

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tsunami - Anthem of the Great Wave – Tsunami are a Dutch five piece of guitar, keys, bass and drums and a very obnoxious lead vocalist who doubles on guitar. This guy is your typical quasi-emotional overbearing neo-clone nasal-whining...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues