Nicolas Meier Nicolas Meier Group

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Biography of Nicolas Meier Nicolas Meier Group

Jazz a Juan Revelations 2006
"Grand Prize of the Jury" and "Jazz Guitar Prize"

"Meier is elegant in tone and bubbling with ideas... his originality as a writer, a player and a team leader dispatches any doubts"
John Fordham (The Guardian)

" Meier should be praised for making an accessible record from his fascination with remote regions..."
Tom Barlow (Jazzwise Magazine)

"Nicolas Meier leads a group featuring a phenomenal line-up and his latest album, "Orient", mixes jazz with Middles Eastern spice"
Mike Butler (Metro)


Swiss guitarist Nicolas Meier is one of the rising stars of a vibrant British jazz scene, his trademark sound a mixture of Methenyesque jazz and spicy Turkish and world music rhythms. Already well known in Europe, where his Meier Group have toured extensively and shared the bill with such illustrious names as Elvin Jones, Brad Meldau, Trilok Gurtu and Bill Evans. Meier and his band recently won the enormously prestigious Grand Prize Of The Jury and 1st Prize Jazz Guitar at Jazz a Juan Revelations 2006 a competition for the finest new jazz musicians and bands in Europe run by the legendary Jazz A Juan Festival. But he is becoming increasingly well known in his adopted country as well where his Meier group features brilliant Israeli world-bebop saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, bassist Tom Mason and drummer Asaf Sirkis who all contributed to his hugely well received Naim label debut ‘Orient’ (alongside noted hard bop and fusion saxophonist Dave O’Higgins).

Orient drew on a multitude of influences: Jazz, Flamenco, Latin and middle-eastern music are all passionately explored in a series of heartfelt acoustic modern jazz originals and all represent part of Meier’s musical and personal world. His wife Songul is Turkish and he has spent time there and in Spain and ‘Orient’ draws on the melodies and rhythms of both countries. Writing in the Guardian, John Fordham described Meier as" elegant in tone and bubbling with ideas... his originality as a writer, a player and a team leader dispatches any doubts" and described his recent album Orient as ‘a seductive balance of strong themes, inventive improvising and dynamic variety’

Meier has recently recorded the follow up album to Orient and the album “Yuz” will be released on Naim in March with an extensive tour including concerts at……… already lined up. The album again features drummer Asaf Sirkis who has been a major influence on Meier’s recent work (’I always liked Asaf for his timing and his emotion that he put in his drumming. He is a very committed musician and he is very supportive of my writing) as well as Gillad Atzmon of whom Meier says ‘his playing is so full of deep emotion and he just plays such wonderful stories and has such a deep knowledge of different styles. He fits so well with my musical concept. Recorded after a period of intensive touring the album draws on the energy and spirit of one of Europe’s most original and sparkling working bands.

Meier who was born in 73 first picked up the guitar when he was 12. His parents, both art lovers, had wide-ranging musical tastes and he was exposed to classical, jazz, Latin, flamenco, rock and pop. Even now when he returns home he checks out his father’s record collection uncovering nuggets from the likes of Wayne Shorter and Keith Jarrett. But it was an early gift from his father of Joe Satriani’s legendary ‘Surfing with the Aliens’ and Tony MacAlpine’s Maximum Security (major intelligent rock guitar-god albums) that first really convinced a young Meier to get practicing. Perhaps his old man was worried because he was subsequently taken on a family outing to the Montreux Jazz festival (in what would become an annual pilgrimage) where they checked out the Carlos Santana band with special guest Wayne Shorter. And later that summer Meier was blown away when he saw John McLaughlin’s trio in Antibes (Trilok Gurtu and Jeff Berlin). In fact Mclaughlin’s album Live at the Royal Festival Hall would be a major influence on Meier with its mix of many styles.

Interestingly Meier’s passion for both rock and jazz persists to this day. Something he partly credits to his teacher Francis Coletta (at the Conservatoire Fribourg) who while inspiring a profound love of jazz and world music encouraged the young man to transcribe rock solos as well! In fact Meier is one of the rare musicians who plays both metal and jazz and has written books on both : ‘Heavy Metal part I: Rhythm Guitar’  and ‘Jazz part I: Chord Tones’. Both published by « www.ibreathmusic.com ». Meier states of his two seemingly divergent loves :

“I deeply love both styles. There is magic in each style that the other one doesn’t have.I just love metal’s power and energy and at the same time I love jazz’s deep emotion. Both styles can give high energy but in different directions or different worlds”

He studied arranging with Max Jendly and Francis Boland before earning a schorlarship to Berklee in Boston, USA and immersing himself in classic Amercian jazz (Parker, Coltrane, Miles etc) and playing acoustic jazz and fusion. He graduated and returned to Switzerland in 98 and formed the « Meier Group » who became festival regulars and he jammed in Montreux with the likes of Rachelle Ferrel, George Duke, Macy Gray and Will Calhoun. But Meier missed the vibe of Boston, the energy of America and looking around for somewhere that combined European culture and American ‘drive’ he settled on London as the perfect synthesis.

Arriving in London Meier met drummer Asaf Sirkis who he credits with helping open his ears to Middle-Eastern music as well as helping him find his feet in London. “He is such a passionate player that I just had  to keep playing with him whenever I could and  I met Gilad Atzmon  through him and many other great players.”

His Turkish wife Songul is also a major influence (check out the impassioned Last Rose on Orient - his passionate tribute to her) and they have travelled together in her homeland. “I fell in love with Turkish rhythms, their instruments, their traditional songs and even their pop music which is very different to western pop drawing on eastern influences.”

Other influences include pianist Chick Corea (who moves effortlessly between fusion and acoustic contexts) and of course Pat Metheny (who isn’t? asks Meier) but also the classic guitar album  “Friday Night in San Francisco” by Al Di Meola, Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin.“I loved all the styles they were playing, Latin and tango with Al, Flamenco with Paco, and Indian music with John. Which is one of the reasons that I love all these styles of music and wanted to explore them on this album.”

He also cites the great Flamenco guitarist Tomatito as an influence from time spent in Sevilla and Barcelona with his friend and piano player Jose Reinoso. Interestingly the album was also influenced by Meier’s love of playing jazz on acoustic guitar, especially his Godin nylon string guitar. It’s a sound that lends itself especially to flamenco and middle-eastern music and it’s all these influences and more that Meier has so brilliantly fused together in his music. Elsewhere you will hear the fretless acoustic guitar, which sounds something like a cross between an acoustic guitar and the oud (an Arabic stringed instrument) and the Saz, a traditional Turkish instrument that he discovered while on his travels in Turkey with his wife.

Nicolas Meier is sponsored by Godin Guitars and plays a Godin nylon string guitar.

As well as leading his own band, Meier has worked with the likes of  Harry Beckett, Dave O'Higgins, John Etheridge, Gilad Aztmon, Renato D'Aielo and Deidre Cartwright. He has recently recorded "Guidance" featuring Vivaldi's 4 Seasons with a guitar orchestra (acoustic, electric & synth guitars) for American Classical label Centaur and until last year was in the nu-metal, techno, industrial band Avoidance Of Doubt, with whom he recorded some Indie label ‘EPs. He also recently formed nu-metal-industrialists Seven.

Meier is a guitar tutor at Goldsmiths University
and at the "Academy of Contemporary Music" in Guildford.

www.naim-audio.com      www.meiergroup.com     www.godinguitars.com


The Band:

Asaf Sirkis - Drums
Gilad Atzmon - Clarinet, Turkish Clarinet & Soprano Saxes
Tom Mason - Acoustic Bass
Dave O'Higgins - Tenor Sax & Soprano Saxes
Bill Evans - Tenor Sax & Soprano Saxes
Matthieu Michel - Trumpet & Flugehorn
Thierry Lang - Piano (Blue Note Artiste)
Jose Reinoso - Piano & Keyboards
Rob Lavers - Tenor Sax & Soprano Saxes
Paul Francis - Bass
Alex Hendriksen - Tenor Sax & Soprano Saxes
Ben Zwerin - Bass
Siemy Di - Percussions
Juliano Zanoni - Drums

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