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Nicolas Meier

Nicolas Meier emerged in Europe as a heavy metal guitarist of some repute but since graduating to the contemporary jazz-fusion school, his rise to prominence has been phenomenal. In the presence of three world class musicians: saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, of Orine House Hall of Fame, bassist tom Mason, who is also involved with F-ire Collective and another Orient House musician in drummer Asaf Sirkis, Meier produced an electrifying performance.

Playing a high tech guitar synthesiser and an unusual Turkish saz, he demonstrated his awesome technique and endless flow of ideas. Some of the exchanges with Atzmon were taken at amazing tempos, combined with flawless accuracy. Atzmon, playing clarinet, tenor and soprano saxes was in top form. His sonorous low register clarinet was a perfect foil to the acoustic guitar, while his full blooded tenor sax was always a source of great excitement and invention.

Tom Mason was a tower of strength on bass; Sirkis was an intelligent, listening percussionist, following the soloists with an uncanny perception and producing brilliant solos. Nottingham Evening Post February 2006.

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. The Guardian November 2005

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. Jazzwise

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. Jazzwise. November 2005.

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 burniní young guitarist out front. Thatís a combination thatís worth watchiní out for, so watch out for the Meier Group! Mark White (Associate Professor of guitar, Berklee College of Music and MMC recording artist)

Talented young people who make great music and deserve to be better known. Mike Zwerin (International Herald Tribune and trombonist)