Echoes on the Road: Tom Rothrock, Jon Hassell, Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin and more

The first live performance by acclaimed producer Tom Rothrock and a transporting set from Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin highlighted a recent excursion to Los Angeles.
Bartsch Rothrock
After Kimberly Haas and I attended the Public Media Conference in Los Angeles, Jeff Towne flew out as we remained to record 7 interviews and performances in 3 days. Among the rewarding challenges was a set from Tom Rothrock. He’s best known as the producer of Beck’s first album and James Blunt’s two CDs, including the hit “Beautiful.” On his own, Rothrock creates a gritty, but atmospheric ambient Americana centered on his dobro. In his hillside home, Rothrock gathered a string quartet, French horn player, percussionist/vibraphonist and electric guitarist to create the first ever live performance of music from his album, Resonater. In fact, Rothrock said it was the first time he played his music live in 20 years as they sat in front of a crackling fire, assailing tunes from the album.

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin is a heady, atmospheric quintet from Switzerland who coincidentally was in LA the same time we were. We recorded a private set in LA’s Jazz Bakery where they threaded a line between minimalism and ECM brand jazz with evocative compositions played with uncanny precision. Their two ECM albums, Stoa Stoa / Nik Bartsch\'s Ronin and Holon Holon are underrated and their kinetic live performance is not to be missed.

It wasn’t all concerts. Trumpeter/Composer Jon Hassell stepped into the Echoes Chamber to hear music blindfolded. This veteran explorer offered some cogent thoughts on contemporary music and some of his precursors. Two-time academy award winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla sat down in his home studio to talk about his film scores for movies like Babel, Brokeback Mountain and Amores Perros. This Argentine musician offered some compelling insights and played his charango for us.
Look for these as well as performances and interviews from Gooding, Peter Kater & Joseph Firecrow and Scott August, sometime in the next few months of Echoes.

Finally, not more than 12 hours after touching down in Philadelphia, we recorded a haunting set of ambient chamber music from the Texas band, Balmorhea in the Echoes Living room. That’s coming soon as well.
John Diliberto

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