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Jazz - Verschenen op 19 maart 2021 | ECM
Baring your soul can sometimes allow you to take stock. The pandemic also plays an obvious introspective role for artists cut off from their audience and the stage. With Entendre, recorded in Lugano in September 2020, Nik Bärtsch sets aside his various outfits (Ronin, Mobile) to find himself alone at the piano. Paradoxically, the Swiss musician finds great freedom in aesthetic restrictions, while seizing the opportunities to take his music to new horizons. That project developed in parallel with his group activities. For Bärtsch, key moments included celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the ECM label at Lincoln Center in New York in 2019, and his collaboration with artist and videographer Sophie Clements. Then there was his 2017 solo piano tour, which took him to Tehran, Alexandria, Cairo, Calcutta and Delhi, which sparked his reflection on the relationship between performance and ritual music in different cultures. Those elements and experiences fed into the preparatory work for Entendre…The numbered pieces entitled Modul, five of the six tracks on the album, seem more like models than fixed, definitive compositions. Bärtsch likens them to “a basic training in martial arts, which can be adapted to all sorts of situations. My way of working is to create new contexts. Each piece plays with the idea of composition, interpretation and improvisation, and is nourished by the same force, yet can create very surprising results”. That is apparent in Modul 58-12, which mixes two old compositions played in group formats, Modul 58 with Ronin on the album Awase (2018) and Modul 12 with Mobile on the album Continuum (2016). “It just developed in that direction in the studio. I didn’t plan it or expect it to open up in that way. The combination of these two pieces is maybe not a coincidence but more of an inner call”. Solo, Bärtsch doesn’t offer a classically jazz piano touch, his style rather intertwining chamber music, solo performance in the classical tradition, but also contemporary and minimalist stylings with a groove. Most interesting of all, Entendre may seem very cerebral but in fact delivers a decidedly carnal collection. It’s a long human adventure with a very narrative approach. At times lyrical, at others refined and minimalist, Entendre ultimately offers a palette as wide as life itself… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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