On a Sunday evening, two very different jazz entities came together for a double album release show. Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch brought his Ronin project overseas to the city to usher in the release of Awase (out now on the long-running ECM Records), while Marc Ribot and his Ceramic Dog outfit celebrated YRU Still Here? (out now on Brooklyn label Northern Spy) on home turf. With something completely different to offer the full house at Greenwich Village’s Le Poisson Rouge, the night started with the ‘zen-funk’ quartet dubbed Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin.
The band started with the first two songs from the latest record: the meditative “Modul 60” before going into the 18-minute percussive journey that is “Modul 58”. On that latter number, saxophonist Stefan Haslebacher played contrabassclarinettist with a series of clicks and taps that added to the polyrhythmic brain fodder that the crowd was eating up. With their own lighting designer in the room, the hour+ long set really moved with a sense of professionalism, and even stirred the crowd up into motion at times during the prolonged and intensified, pulsating journeys.
Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin plays a few more shows in the USA before touring much more in Europe. You can check out tour dates and purchase the new record Awase by going to ECM Records website.
Up next was Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, which features prominent NYC avant-garde players Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Ches Smith on drums. The music for the new YRU Still Here? is political and urgent, a gut-check reaction to the Trump administration and bureaucratic horse shit that is plaguing the country. Songs like “Pennsylvania 6 6666” take a tongue-in-cheek approach to describing what it was like to grow up in PA as Shahzad Ismaily, a product of Pakistani immigrant parents. The songs tend to start out with Ribot handling the lead vocals before the music evolves into a raucous display of chops from all three virtuosic players. The album is quite sporadic and anxious, capturing the feeling during these tumultuous times.
Ceramic Dog already did a run of US dates to support YRU Still Here?, but they’ll head to Europe to do the same shortly. Check out dates here. If you’re interested in the record, please head to Northern Spy’s website.