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Nik Bärtsch, Listening: Music Movement Mind (Lars Müller Publishers)

Based on Nik Bärtsch and his wife Andrea Pfisterer-Bärtsch's background as performers in live music and as aikido practitioners Listening: Music Movement Mind is on one level an oddity. On another it is incredibly wise. A sprawling philosophical …

Published: 15 Jun 2021. Updated: 38 days.

Based on Nik Bärtsch and his wife Andrea Pfisterer-Bärtsch's background as performers in live music and as aikido practitioners Listening: Music Movement Mind is on one level an oddity. On another it is incredibly wise.

A sprawling philosophical trawl of sorts it provides the best insights yet into Bärtsch's brilliant mind and unique zen funk and ritual music ideas. While fascinated by his thinking I nearly gave up a few times when the text starting reeling off quote after quote from wise thinkers ancient to modern and almost becomes a kind of TED talk for get-up-and-goers. But then I was extremely glad that I didn't because takeaways include what Bärtsch, whose solo piano album Entendre is for me the best album of all that ECM have released this year, thinks about the meaning of the band. ''A band should mature into an integral organism – then it is alive, like an animal, a biotope, an urban space. It creates overtone blossoms, ghost notes, spectral sounds, flights of perspective.'' How beautifully put and humane. The skill of the book is also in its tone of voice. Bärtsch manages to navigate confident pivots between waxing lyrical, offering self-help, analysis of his own musical ideas, tales of his life in Switzerland and living in Japan along with much else. It is not a beginning-middle-and-end sort of book by a long chalk.

The book also comes equipped with a wonderful bibliography that is almost worth getting Listening: Music Movement Mind for alone: hint Frans de Waal crops up quite a lot. Best of all Bärtsch does not put up a wall that the reader has to scale perilously to gain admission eventually to his dojo of erudition. Instead he encourages us like a coach to erase all barriers especially in the way we may listen and think about music and roam with him. Bärtsch also writes: ''When I was twenty-six, I sold all my CDs and LPs to make room in my apartment and in my head – and also because I needed money. I only kept then twenty personally relevant albums.'' This list of lists, that makes most playlists seem very inadequate, is worth memorising and above all investigating further. It includes work by James Brown, Brian Eno and David Byrne, Morton Feldman, Heiner Goebbels, Herbie Hancock, Meshell Ndegeocello, Photek, Prince and Lennie Tristano. SG

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Track of the day: Benoît Delbecq 4, Anamorphoses, Jazzdor Series ****

Lens, method, change. Anamorphosis in optics is according to the Collins Dictionary an image or drawing distorted in such a way that it becomes ''recognizable only when viewed in a specified manner or through a special device''; in another sense …

Published: 14 Jun 2021. Updated: 39 days.

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Lens, method, change. Anamorphosis in optics is according to the Collins Dictionary an image or drawing distorted in such a way that it becomes ''recognizable only when viewed in a specified manner or through a special device''; in another sense ''the process by which such images or drawings are produced''; and in a third ''the evolution of one type of organism from another by a series of gradual changes''. One of two tracks so far through lens, method, and above all in the dealing with change in the intertwining hivemind mindset of four creative improvisers is to be heard ahead of Gentle Ghosts. Recorded live in Paris in the autumn of 2019 pianist Benoît Delbecq whose process also involves the manipulation of live electronics was last heard by this blog fine and mellow on Fred Thomas' enjoyable trad-jazz Wagner tribute Dick Wag. He is here in a very different style and context on his own composition, delving into an aching quite delicious free avant blues soundsphere and canvas. With double bassist John Hébert, here in the Formanekian mantle, the elegant Warne Marsh-ian tenor saxophonist Mark Turner and formidable free-jazz drummer Gerald Cleaver the effect is without fear of hyperbole a serene vision unwinding however much at times imperceptibly.

Benoît Delbecq 4: John Hébert, above left, Mark Turner, Benoît Delbecq, Gerald Cleaver. Photo: John Rogers. Gentle Ghosts (Jazzdor Series) is out on 25 June.