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Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin: Don’t Fake the Funk

Steady groovin': Nik Bartsch (far left) and Ronin

For someone renowned for an economical approach to piano improvisation and composing, Nik Bärtsch speaks rather effusively about his “Zen-funk” philosophy. His lengthy, involved explanations trail off like fanciful Chick Corea solos, making fascinating, sometimes unexpected turns but always resolving with lucid insight.

Bärtsch focuses on the concepts of balance and paradox. “We are looking for a kind of simplicity but within an intelligent way; the music should not seem complicated,” he says with calm deliberation. “I think [Zen-funk] has a lot to do with the idea that simple things have a lot of high concepts. A simple gesture has a lot behind it. That’s important for our music.”

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