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on 28 September 2012
I have seen Nik Bartsch's group Ronin live several times in London over the last few years, and wasn't too bothered about acquiring this live CD set. Don't get me wrong, they are fantastic to see/hear live - but I never really got the sense that the music was much different to what was on record. The concerts were incredible considering how complex the music is (or appears!). I have all of their CD releases (including all of the Ronin Rhythms CDs) apart from the first live one they did.

So this purchase is in fact the first live one I have bought. I listened to the first 2 tracks on the way to work this morning... and oh my goodness... it is incredible!

Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention when I saw them live all of those times, as I have forgotten how spontaneous the group is in concert mode. There is so much more interplay, improvising and organic progression than I ever realised before. Take the intro to the first Modul on this CD set for instance (Modul 41_17). This sort of thing just isn't captured on the original studio recording, and it is beautiful and fitting.

The second track is probably my favourite Modul - Modul_35. The with the triangle hitting a 6/4 pattern for a while before the whole group come in with a repeating, hypnotic motif in a completely meter and rhythm (with the triangle still hitting the same 6/4 pattern in the background). Even this Modul sounds so much different (if not better) on this live recording. The bass player (Bjorn Meyer) seems to be doing something different. Also, the breakdown after the motifs (which keep changing keys) is a definite improvement to the original (on the album STOA), which I always thought was a little anticlimactic!?

Come to think of it, I've never really been a fan of live albums in general. But this CD set has completely changed my mind. I would go as far to say that if one were looking for to obtain just one Nik Bartsch album, then this must surely be it - for the sheer variety of the Moduls and the well-captured live atmosphere. It's probably the closest thing to a 'Best Of' you will ever find from this group.

The recording quality is excellent as always. I look forward to hearing the rest of it on the way home from work this evening. I also hope to see them return to London again shortly. It's been too long.

**UPDATE**: Ditto for the rest of the album!
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on 26 October 2012
One of the previous reviews rightly raises the point of live albums. It is a rare recording of a live performance of existing material (rather than a new release which happens to be recorded live) which will appeal to all of existing fans (often as a memento of a great night), newcomers and those who had previously disliked an artist's music.

While the quality of the performances on "Live" goes without saying, this double release is significantly similar to the source material such that it is an excellent introduction and best of (with material from five albums over a decade or so and eight concerts). And while the similarity means it is unlikely to win over those previously unmoved by Ronin, it is more organic and warm if less precise and may appeal to some who think that the precision of the group's music sound disqualifies it from any association with jazz.

That said, on the first few listens I was slightly non-plussed. The same group of Bartsch, Sha, Rast, Pupato and Meyer, (although the bass player had left the group and was replaced by Tommy Jordi for the last track only) performs their music in a fundamentally faithful manner to the source material and it took repeated listening fully to appreciate the subtlety, differences and innovation on display. Modul 35 is a classic example. Compared with the version from "Stoa", the track is both more urgent and forceful while featuring a bewitchingly beautiful motif from Bartsch nearly 5 minutes in. Although Modul 22 from 2004's "Rea" and another which I have been unable to trace were new to me, the majority of the tracks come from the last two releases "Holon" and "Lyria". Indeed the second disc contains two tracks each from those albums. While generally the increase in length of the tracks compared with their studio form is relatively minor, Modul 48 from "Lyria" is expanded from 9.41 minutes to 13.11 and is much looser in feel while Modul 47 from "Lyria" is expanded from 8.02 minutes to 13.11.

In short, while I am far from throwing away my studio recordings, and while I yearn for some of the textural subtlety which understandably has to be sacrificed on occasions, "Live" is an excellent release, which marks the depature of Meyer and looks forward to a new and, hopefully, equally exciting future.
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on 7 October 2013
Having listened to all three ECM recordings before this live (Stoa, Holon and Llyria) I expected a very good album at the very least. But this live album was beyond even my highest expectations. The album captures the amazing energy of this band. Most of the compositions are not played exactly as in the studio albums, and, in my opinion, they are more powerful in this recording, particularly the two opening compositions of each CD, Modul 41_17 and Modul 45 respectively. Ecstatic groove and spirituality, zen funk (as Nik Bartsch calls it) at its best. I highly recommend it for fans and new listeners alike.
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on 24 October 2012
First of all,let me give an explanation of my value for money grading for this album,whwn i bought this release it was priced at £12.00 and now just four weeks later it is £16.99,just a small point,i know,but a £4.99 rise in a month is a bit much.
Since signing to ECM Nik has produced some challenging music that can be difficult to listen to,the sound csn be incredibly powerful compared to his pre ECM releases,which tended to be more basic.

CD ONE
1) Module 41......16.38 Kicks the whole thing into gear with a treated piano and bass extraveganza that bodes well for the rest of the set,this is hugely enjoyable and impressive,recorded in Lorrach
2) Module 35......11.31 is s more funky feature with more syncopations then you can shake a cat at,recorded in Liepzic.
3) Module 42......8.09 recorded in Vienna,this piece is more melodic than previous tracks and more piano based
4) Module 17...... 8.58 this was recorded in Tokyo and is well up to standard.
5) Module 22......14.45This track hailes from a concert in Amsterdam,need i say more,there is some magnificent bass playing on this track.

CD TWO
1) mODULE 45.......13.11 live in Mannheim,starts of like "Money" by Pink floyd then developes into an exhibition of musiacl experimentation,brilliant stuff!!
2) Module 48.....8.37 live in Gateshead, a delicate and more whimsical track that is absolutely beautiful.
3) Module 47......13.11 another track from the Mannheim concert,etherial electronics abound on this track which at first are quite ambient,but as usual with NBR tings are not as they seem,with thiw metronomic sounding tune.
4) Module 55 .....10.00 from Salzou.yet anothe mesmerising performance,grings this album to an end.

Whatever the price,this is a magnificent album,fyll of power and improvisation,well worth its five star rating.

RECORDED LIVE IN LORRACH,LIEPZIG,WIEN,TOKYO,AMSTERDAM,MANNHIEM,GATESHEAD,SALZAU BETWEEN 2009/2011,

RELEASED IN 2012

CD ONE .....60.03
CD TWO.....45.00

NIK BARTSCH.....PIANO,FENDER RHODES
SHA,,,,,BASS CLARINET,ALTO SAXOPHONE
BJORN MAYER......BASS
THOMMY JORDI......BASS
KASPER RAST......DRUMS
ANDI PUNATI......PERCUSSION

VALUE FOR MONEY ££££
BEST TRACKS......MODUE41/MODULE 35/MODULE 17/MODULE 22/MODULE 45/MODULE 48
PRODUCTION*****
PACKAGING......JEWEL CASE WITH 20 PAGE BOOKLET AND SLIPCASE.

ECM

A CONTENDER FOR ALBUM OF THE YEAR
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on 2 June 2013
In my retirement, I have started exploring ultra-modern jazz, and the quiet, hypnotic rhythms of NB and his Ronins have captivated me. Just find them on YouTube.

Recommended to all refugees from the crap jazz of twenty or thirty years ago.
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on 12 November 2013
Ronin was a sensation to me when I heard it first and remained a top item when working on it...
So I was very curious last friday to listen to them live at last.
That became a large diapointment.
Four men in black. In overpowering volume on a loudness as if they were going to have to fill a complete festival-field.., They played in a small theatre-salle filled wsith people that were attending a festival of modern contemporary music. This audience has the ears and openness of mind to find appreciation in for Ronin.... A chance to really reach for the tops and the utterest corners of their imprivising-structured somewhat darkish sound.. Then why this noise?
Resisted the impulse to leave and stayed to listen. Eyes closed and concentrated. But it just didn't happen. This was just fistshowing and overpowering.
Nothing of the beauty7 of the recordings..
A lightshow and smokemachine were there too. As if they are Pink Floyd in person. It all flopped that night. Such a pitty.
Back home, listening to the CD it was all fine again. With my own hands on the volume and a bit of subtlety in the high tones this is nice interesting fusing music.. What happened live?
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on 28 December 2014
Nice
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