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Nicolas Meier Nicolas Meier Group

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Reviews of Nicolas Meier Nicolas Meier Group

 

19/02/2006 Guardian, Jazzwise, Jazz UK...

QUOTES

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"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)

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" Meier should be praised for making an accessible record from his fascination with remote regions..."

Tom Barlow (Jazzwise Magazine)

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"Orient is a seductive balance of strong themes, inventive improvising and dynamic variety"

John Fordham (The Guardian)

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" Nicolas is an excellent guitarist who plays in the fusion/funk-post bop tradition. The Meier Group is an extension of his compositional talents, a great, tight group with a burnin’ young guitarist out front. That’s a combination that’s worth watchin’ out for, so watch out for the Meier Group! "



Mark White(Associate Professor of guitar, Berklee College of Music and MMC recording artist)



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"La creativite et l'homogeneite complices des musiciens font de cette formation un "must" a placer d'urgence dans les discographies les plus exigentes."



Max Jendly (composer and teacher of the Conservatory of Fribourg)



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" Talented young people who make great music and deserve to be better known "



Mike Zwerin(International Herald Tribune and trombonist)



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"Decouvert au festival de Montreux, Nicolas Meier fait partie de la nouvelle generation de guitaristes talentueux, soucieux d'une production raffinee donnant un jazz alerte, a la ligne melodique recherchee, et aux diverses influences parfaitement integrees et s'inscrivant dans le language commun du Meier Group."



Patrick Fremeaux & Rolf Knussel



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"The Meier Group. Classy Metheny-esque Swiss guitarist Nicolas Meier is now a Londoner, and mixing fusion and Turkish music with the horns of Gilad Atzmon and Dave O’Higgins – way above the usual world-jazz formulae."



John Fordham, The Guardian and Jazz UK
JAZZ WISE, December 2005
Tomorrow is the question




REVIEWS

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"Nicolas Meier", Orient (Naim)

The Guardian



Nicolas Meier is a Swiss guitarist with a bright reputation in his homeland, and also in Italy and France; now he has moved to London. Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin are clear influences on his brand of contemporary fusion, but since his move, the guitarist has broadened a brief that was already expanding. Orient is the product of three combined forces: the culture of Meier's Turkish wife, plus some musical experiments with London-based world-jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and middle-eastern drummer Asaf Sirkis. The result is like a Pat Metheny album with a strong eastern-European and middle-eastern spin. It might seem that by combining such well-travelled world-music elements, Meier is asking for trouble. But his originality as a writer, a player and a team leader dispatches any doubts. Give or take a few soft-fusion or movie-music longueurs, and some overdependence on Metheny's arsenal of guitar sound effects, Orient is a seductive balance of strong themes, inventive improvising and dynamic variety, with Atzmon often playing
exquisitely on saxes and on both conventional and Turkish clarinets.

The opener, Adiguzel, moves between Turkish dance music and jazz grooving; Sirkis' percussion is typically vivid and vigorous. Meier is elegant in tone and bubbling with ideas on the Methenyish Libra, and Atzmon plays a wonderful clarinet break of eerie whispers, sly insinuations and gripping tonal contrasts on Last Rose before Meier follows with a zither-like sound. Alone is Eastern fusion with subtle guitar electronics, and saxophonists Dave O'Higgins and Rob Lavers contrast a postbop-sax intensity with Atzmon's patient storytelling. Definitely promising.


John Fordham
Friday November 11, 2005
The Guardian



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"Nicolas Meier", Orient (Naim)

Guitar Techniques


Fancy something instrumental and completely different? Look no further as Nicolas Meier’s Orient should satisfy.
Swiss guitarist Meier is already well known in Europe following intensive touring. This album of modern upbeat and moody jazz packed with warmth, excitement and surprise should spread the word. Season represent the cooler side of Meier against a slow background whilst Guidance shows off his fast and fluid acoustic guitar work. The album title certainly suits as this is a musical journey that takes you well away from wintry England. Meier is at home on electric, acoustic, fretless and synth guitars – you’re in for a variety here. A great, late-night listen.

Guitar Techniques, March 2006


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"Orient" NAIMCD091

Hi-Fi Plus

Guitarist Nicolas Meier is a new name to me although he’s apparently well established with his Meier Group elsewhere in Europe having toured extensively in his native Switzerland, as well as Italy and France. Now based in London and with a new band, he’s set to embark on a UK tour. The new band and this recording include a key member I the great Gilad Atzmon on clarinet, Turkish clarinet (yes, you can distinctly hear the difference), and soprano sax.
And with Atzmon’s powerful playing complementing Meier’s sinuous lines on guitar and Turkish saz supported by sterling support from Asaf Sirkis on percussion, Tom Mason on bass, and Dave O’Higgins and Rob Lavers on soprano and tenor sax this is a very fine band indeed. The set draws on a multitude of influences predominantly middle-eastern but also taking in flamenco and Latin flavours. Throughout it’s propulsive, melodic and entirely absorbing. So strong a set is it that it’s very difficult to single out favourite tracks, but if pushed I’d go for “Season” as showcase of the strength of the tightly interlock band, showcasing Meier’s dexterity with Atzmon’s soprano setting the seal on a sensuous and atmospheric experience. Complemented by another superb, warm “you are there” recording from Naim this has quickly become a treasured CD and has really whet my appetite to catch the band live. Check out their schedule on www.meiergroup.com

Recording 9/10, Music 8/10

DD
Hi-Fi Plus, Issu 43

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JAZZ UK



Guitarist Nicolas Meier is of Swiss origin, but based in London, and as you can hear on his new CD, already collaborating with some of the most interesting players around. The formidably talented Meier, bassist Tom Mason and drummer Asaf Sirkis are the backbone of the group, and you also get strong performances from saxophonists Gilad Atzmon, Dave O’Higgins and Rob Lavers. Oriental sounds mingle western fusion in Meier’s music, and on “Adiguzel” Gilad Atzmon (who else?) and the group triumphantly bring together the various musical ingredients. I particularly like the spine-tingling “Libra”, with Dave O’Higgins on tenor, and the haunting duet between Meier and Rob Lavers on “What’s Next?”.

PM
JAZZ UK, Jan/Feb 2006-02-10

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"Orient"

Jazzwise



On Orient, virtuoso Swiss guitarist Nicolas Meier switches from gritty fusion to dizzying Turkish and middle-eastern folk styles and their integration with jazz. Giddy at times – « Guidance » has Dave O’Higgins playing some of his best solos yet – the album also mines snakey, Istanbul marketplace music on the opener « Adiguzel », with the leader opting to solo on the mellow acoustic fretless.
Meier should be praised for making an accessible record from his fascination with remote regions, although it also veers towards smoothness on down-tempo numbers such as « Libra » and « Trust » (both showcases for O’Higgins).
Asaf Sirkis and Tom Mason are highly sympathetic bandmates, and it is almost a shame that Gilad Atzmon appears only on three numbers, since he is clearly a soul-mate – wowing on Turkish clarinet to Meier’s Turkish Saz (an oriental stringed instrument) on the lovely « Last Rose ». In the course of Orient, jazz, flamenco, Latin and middle-eastern sounds collide – let’s hope that Meier and Atzmon keep dancing together.



Tom Barlow
Jazzwise, November 2005



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"Modern Guitar Orchestra" 2004



For a more quixotic adventure into the realms of refined melodic achievement the Modern Guitar Orchestra’s recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Centaur/Dimusic) is certainly an experience to ponder. The brainchild of the Swiss guitar virtuoso Nicolas Meier, the “orchestra” comprises a multitracked Meier on acoustic, synth and electric guitars with occasional assistance from the former Soft Machine guitarist John Etheridge.

They are obviously both bonkers, but as the stately quadrilles of the Danza Pastorale (allegro) trill merrily from the fretboards it is hard not to feel a twinge of admiration for the sheer chutzpah of the project.



The Times, December 17, 2004
DAVID SINCLAIR



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"Ribbon in the Wind" 2002
Jazzwise

"Ribbon in the Wind, third album from Swiss guitarist-composer and Berklee college graduate Nicolas Meier, features his fusion quintet plus special guests Dave O’Higgins and Blue Note signing Thierry Lang. There is some fine playing in evidence here and plenty of interesting compositional ideas, among other admirable qualities. Concision, however, is not one of them. With a strong opening theme “Arabesques” starts out promisingly enough but then seems to lose its way during not one but two lengthy solos from Meier (acoustic followed by electric). A similar thing happens in the title track that breaks down into a completely unprepared percussive jam at around the halfway point – mildly diverting, but adding little to the overall composition. Clocking in at just over 10 minutes, you feel that some judicious editing was badly needed here. “Sweetness”, on the other hand, is completely engaging: a magnificient opening theme (O’Higgins at his most languorous), strong soloing (O’Higgins again, beautifully paced, followed by an intensely expressive Lang) and a well-balanced shape."

Peter Quinn, Jazzwise, Issue 61, February 2003

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"Ribbon in the Wind" 2002
"Jazz Rag"



"Led by guitarist Nicolas Meier, The Meier Group includes Paul Francis on bass, Asaf Sirkis on drums and Siemy Di, percussions, with reedmen Dave O’Higgins and Alex Hendriksen appearing on certain titles and pianist Thierry Lang added on two. The programme is split into three parts, with four, two and on title in each – I mention this only because the music seems to bear the same mood throughout, despite the apparently intended changes.
It’s an intense journey, with an emphasis on ensemble rather than individual solos – “collective improvisation” might have been the term once, but there is some sense of order in these long flowing tracks, as guitar merges with saxophone and another pastel takes shape.
What is missing is sense of form – the music cruises along without destination, the sometimes gentle, sometimes urgent progression leaving no lasting impression. Indeed this writer found himself replaying the disc if only to discover whether I was doing an injustice, but it would

seem not."

Greg Murphy
JazzRag, Spring 2003 stars

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"Ribbon in the Wind" 2002
Jazz Notes 2003



Encore un groupe Suisse qui se compose de Nicolas Meier, utilisant la guitare acoustique, electrique et le synthe, Alex Hendriksen (tss), Paul Francis (eb), Asaf Sirkis (dr) et comme invites : Dave O’Higgins (sst), Thierry Lang (p). Voie nouvelle dans le jazz ou le leader s’inscrit dans un style musical, agreable. Il ne cherche ni l’epate ni la violence, mais choisit avec ses compagnons un ton tres melodique, en apportant une certaine recherche pleine d’emotion dans la complementarite et l’efficacite. Le groupe fait en sorte de créer une musicque qui permet de s’evader dans le reve. Pas si mal, tout en etant d’une modernite de bon gout.



ARTICLES

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"Way out east" Jazzwise
Guitarist Nicolas Meier takes on a new musical direction with his latest album.



Swiss-born, Berklee-trained Nicolas Meier leads a double life. Besides conjuring up middles-eastern magic and western jazz on his new release Orient, the guitarist virtuoso is a heavy metal freak.
« I’m a jazz player – definitely – but I also like diversity, and playing rock gives me a chance to do something more powerful once in a while, » grins the 32-year-old, who has written instruction manuals on jazz harmony and heavy metal rhythm guitar.
“I 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.”
On his latest album, Meier takes his previously fusion-oriented music into new worlds whilst firmly promoting his love for genre-collision with the help of stylistic nomad Gilad Atzmon on clarinet and saxes, bassist Tom Mason and Israeli drummer Asaf Sirkis. The concoction of pastoral Latin, flamenco and middle-eastern influences has a distinct Eurojazz feel, whilst Dave O’Higgins applies some of his tenor chops to ensure the music has a touch of grit.
On this his second album, Meier swaps the Telecaster for the oud-like fretless acoustic guitar, a Godin nylon string and a saz, a traditional Turkish instrument (“it’s very melancholic and beautiful,” he explains). While the band leader’s giddy virtuosity is not lost, the resulting melodic flavour is deliberate.
“I was always influence by ECM music from the first time I heard jazz,” he confesses. “I love it because it gives a lot of space for the improvisers to go wherever they want. A lot of freedom. Although in other ways, I grew up listening to fusion – Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and the Brecker Brothers.”
Based in London for the past five years and married to a Turkish wife, Meier is no stranger to multi-culturalism. As a child in Fribourg, diversity was commonplace with various parts of town speaking different European languages. It was not long before Meier was soaking up both John McLaughlin and rock maestro Joe Satriani before finding the affinity with swing and bebop that would inspire his journey to Berklee.
“London is fantastic – a kind of an in-between for Europe and America, which is why I like it,” he explains. “It has so many diamonds musically and I guess I found my diamonds in guys like Gilad – he’s a great player because he comes from Israel so he has all this Arabic phrasing down and he’s a fantastic bebop player too, so he can really mix those two emotionally”.
Meier also credits drummer Asaf Sirkis for opening his ears to Middle-Eastern music, while Songul, his wife has broadened his horizons by introducing him to the music from her native country. In the meantime, Meier namedrops the great Flamenco guitarist Tomatito as an influence from time spent in Sevilla and Barcelona with his friend and piano player Jose Reinoso.
Yet despite the pot-pourri of sounds swirling in his head, Meier’s jazz education began conventionally. After studying arrangement with Fancis Boland, Meier moved to America to study in Boston in 1994.
“I couldn’t dream of a better place to go to. It was such a diverse place with so many great young players – to me to stay playing with them was great competition, it allowed me to reach a much higher level. Also with the teachers we had a choice between 40 guitar tutors and some were more rock or bebop oriented, so you could really find the one who suited you.”
At Berklee, Meier’s inclinations were to jam with Latin and Brazilian musicians as well as the Americans, “just for the diversity.” As a result, Latin remains a strong influence on his current work.
After graduating, Meier took the decision to move back to Switzerland in 1998, forming the Meier Group who quickly became festival favourites. In the meantime, childhood dreams came true at the Montreux Festival, when he jammed with the likes of Rachelle Ferrel, George Duke, Macy Gray and Will Calhoun.
An open-minded performer, his talk is devoid of the bias against US jazz.
“I don’t think it’s a case of American music being less progressive,” he argues. “In some sensed the standard there is better, but I needed to go back to Europe and be in a culture that I found comfortable with a certain standard of living. I know Europeans who go to work to New York but after 10 years they just long to return to Europe. It’s tough to survive there as a musician.”
After arriving in London, Meier cut the rock-oriented Ribbon in the Wind in 2002. “It was totally fusion oriented,” says the guitarist, “with percussion and two horns so it had a Brecker influence and a bit of Mike Stern too. But afterwards, I wanted a change of direction and also something that would be interesting to more people. The melody of flamenco was influencing me too, but then with the experience of not having too many concerts the direction changed and I found that I was developing my acoustic playing.”
Ironically, it is by leaving his first love (the electric guitar) to his heavy metal projects that Meier has found his identity in jazz.
“I think playing only acoustic guitar has been key,” he concludes. “Before with the telecaster and adding distortion, I always referenced Mike Stern. When I fell in love with the acoustic I just tried to develop my own way of improvising using some oriental phrasing combined with western styles. Mixing those meant I was really trying to play different. Great players play different and that’s why they’re known and loved. I’m just trying to work towards this.”

Tom Barlow, Jazzwise November 2005



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"Orient" 2005

La Liberte



Nicolas Meier, from the Sarine to the Tames

Jazz Parade – Living in London for the past 5 years the fribourgeois guitarist presented his new project on Tuesday. Interview with a happy exiled.

Radiant, Nicolas Meier ! Met Tuesday afternoon in a fribourgeois café a few hours away from his concert at the Jazz Parade, the fribourgeois guitarist is holding proudly his new album just come out of production. “I am very happy of this new project and I look forward to be able to present it to the Fribourgeois with my friends from London”, explains this virtuoso of the six string who is living a well filled out career by the river Tames.

An ambitious CD

“I come back every two years to the Jazz Parade with a different band. But this time around this is the project for which I carry the most ambition for.” When listening to the album in question, simply titled “Orient” one can only share his enthusiasm. Recorded by fabulous London musicians including two exiled Israelis, the drummer Asaf Sirkis and the saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, this CD marks an important evolution in the guitarist’s route. From now on it is on the World Music front, very active in London, that his finds his inspiration with a predilection for flamenco and Arab music.

Changing of direction

The new Nicolas Meier has therefore exchanged his electric guitar for an acoustic instrument signed by the prestigious violin-maker Godin who now sponsors the guitarist. End of jazz-rock and fusion which were up to now his favourite genres but which are not anymore. “Ribbon in the Wind” release in 2002 which nevertheless had a faultless cast (one can especially hear the pianist Thierry Lang on it) has not held critics or organisers’ attention.

“I then said to myself that a change in direction was needed, that I had to find a more personal route. I work a lot especially the acoustic guitar but also traditional instruments like the Turkish saz.

Reworked Vivaldi

In the meantime Nicolas Meier has also recorded an album where he reworks with all sorts of rerecorded instruments the famous “Four Seasons” by Vivaldi. “The paradox is that it has nothing to do with jazz but of all my albums it is the most sold one”, explains amused the guitarist who is already working on the follow-up of this unexpected CD.
One has already understood this former student of Francis Coletta at the Fribourg Conservatoire feels very at ease in London where he arrived five and a half years ago already, with only his talent and his guitar to make a living. Very quickly his impressive musical knowledge and his very diversified tastes enabled him to make a name for himself amongst the best musicians in the capital.

Six concerts per week

Nowadays Nicolas Meier plays five to six nights per week in different venues, clubs or hotel bars. “It is not necessarily the best for stage performance but at least it enables me to play the music I prefer, jazz, and to make a living out of it.” This does not prevent him from letting of steam in metal bands (Commentaire du traducteur : Heureusement, que le journaliste a rajouté cette petite phrase si importante à mes yeux !!!). And to even find the time to teach one day a week at the Academy of contemporary music : the opportunity to meet other teachers including some of his heroes, like Mike Stern.
In short, at 30 years of age Nicolas Meier has everything to be happy for. “Above all, I am going to get married soon” he says once again with a smile before meeting up with his musicians for the sound check.



Eric Steiner, La Liberté (14.07.2005)


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"The Past Is Gone" 1999
"Le sax limpide de Bill Evans magnifie Nicolas Meier"

Jazz : En abandonnant le hard rock pour les notes bleues, le guitariste fribourgeois Nicolas Meier a fait preuve de sagesse. Son nouveau CD en est la preuve vivante.

Lorsque l’on cite le nom de Nicolas Meier à Francis Coletta, véritable référence du monde guitaristique, ce dernier lève le pouce en signe d’approbation et lâche : " Nicolas, c’est first class ! ". Beau compliment de celui qui fut le professeur de Meier alors âgé de 12 ans seulement. Deux ans après 7 la vie, un disque plus que prometteur, Nicolas Meier remet l’ouvrage sur le métier avec The past is gone. Aux côtés du guitariste, les cuivres du saxophoniste américain Bill Evans, ceux d’Alex Hendriksen et la trompette et le bugle de Matthieu Michel.

Le nouvel opus reflète bien les diverses influences du guitariste. Les compositions louvoient entre un jazz alerte, tendance funky, (superbement soutenu par le batteur brésilien Juliano Zanoni et le bassiste français Ben Zwerin) et les ballades inspirées. Les trois années passées par Meier au Berklee College of Music de Boston ont laissé des traces indélébiles. On lorgne ici du côté du Mahavishnu Orchestra de John McLaughlin et des schémas rythmiques chers à Miles Davis. A noter que Bill Evans a joué avec les deux, rien de moin !

La place belle est donc faite à des cuivres qui s’en donnent à cœur joie. Le résultat vaut amplement le déplacement chez votre disquaire. La musique coule ici, sensuelle comme de l’eau limpide d’un ruisseau forestier. On passe un chouette moment sans jamais se perdre dans les méandres d’un jazz intellectuel et prétentieux. Tout est prétexte à ce que chaque musicien s’éclate le plus souvent possible.
Avant de plonger dans le jazz, Nicolas Meier a fait ses premières armes avec le groupe rock No Miss no Mess, cinq ans de concerts dans toute la Suisse. Il reçoit le prix du meilleur musicien au Festival du Locle. Il enregistre deux cassettes en 1991 et 1993, Noctural work et Mysterious liberty. Durant deux ans, il joue au sein du Big Band du Conservatoire de Fribourg, dirigé par Max Jendly. Il fonde le Meier Group en 1995. Le groupe a joué dans les plus grands festivals de jazz, notamment à trois reprises à celui de Montreux. Agé de 26 ans, le guitariste vit actuellement à Londres où il partage son temps entre la composition et les arrangements. Il joue aussi en studio et sur scène avec des formations de tous styles."

Pierre–André Zurkinden
La Liberté


CONCERTS

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Festival Jazz Fribourg 2005



Nicolas Meier presented a sensitive and virtuosic music. A set with oriental colours.

Nicolas Meier does not need to blush of his performance, Tuesday at the Jazz Parade, playing between two Stars, the pianist Brad Mehldau and the percussionist Trilok Gurtu. Heading a top of the line quintet the guitarist presented a remarkable set oriental oriented like on his excellent album (see left). Having left behind his tendency to demonstrate inherited from virtuosi’s of jazz fusion, he now uses his stupefying technique for a music which is best described as sensitive and generous, enhanced by the impetuous lyricism of the formidable Israeli saxophonist Gilad Atzmon.



Eric Steiner, La Liberté (14.07.2005)


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