ROVA NEWS – March 2008

Chris Marker Gay Lussac Paris, May 1968
♦ Rova On Tour in Europe

♦ New Release - Larry Ochs’ The Mirror World

♦ Upcoming Shows – Jon Raskin Duo Gigs

♦ Good News! – Emerging Composer Award

♦ Favorite Street – Larry Ochs

♦ RadiOM – Improv:21 Series Archived Online

Rova on tour in Europe

The Quartet has just left for a tour in Europe for two weeks. We’ll be visiting places we’ve played for almost 30 years, and make it to some spots for the first time. The Rova Special Sextet (featuring drummers Tony Buck and Michael Vatcher) will perform at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, which we played on our first European tour in May of 1979 and have returned to many times since, as well as in Groningen in northern Holland. This project was first produced by Rova:Arts at the JCC in San Francisco in 2005. See below for information on the new recording documenting this concert.

Touring gives us an opportunity to stretch nightly and really dig into the material that we prepare and try out here in town. The trips also allow us to connect with the larger community of improvisers and audiences.

Here's the schedule:
March 8: Forli, Italy   Area Sismica
March 9: Rome, Italy   La Casa del Jazz
March 10: Padova, Italy   Cinema Torresino
March 13: Amsterdam   Bimhuis
Rova Special Sextet (with drummers Michael Vatcher and Tony Buck)
March 15: Muenster, Germany   CUBA
March 16: Groningen, Netherlands   The Grande Theatre
Rova Special Sextet (with drummers Michael Vatcher and Tony Buck)
March 18: Saarbrucken, Germany Stadtgalerie Saarbrucken
March 20: Tours, France    Le Petit Faucheux
New release: Larry Ochs’ The Mirror World
Rova Special Sextet/OrkestRova

Larry Ochs’ The Mirror World (for Stan Brakhage)
Metalanguage (MLX 2007)

The packaging is all recyclable materials except for the CDs themselves. Cover art taken from film strips of Stan Brakhage’s films, kindly provided by his estate. You can get more information, including a preview article on the original performance from which this recording comes, at www.ochs .cc . If you’d like to know more about Brakhage’s incredible films, the best place to start might be Criterion Films.

realization 1: HAND
ORKESTROVA: John Schott - el. guitar // Joan Jeanrenaud & Theresa Wong - cellos, effects // Lisle Ellis – bass + circuitry // Ben Goldberg – contra-alto + Bb clarinets // Toyoji Tomita & Jen Baker – trombones, didgeridoos // Darren Johnston & David Bithell – trumpets // Steve Adams – bass flute // Jon Raskin – baritone sax // Tim Perkis & Matt Wright - electronics // William Winant & Gino Robair - percussion // {on tracks 4 + 7 only: Bruce Ackley – Bb clarinet // Moe! Staiano – percussion} // Raskin, Adams, Robair – cues, conducting // Larry Ochs – traffic control.

realization 2: WALL
Rova Special Sextet: Bruce Ackley - soprano, tenor // Steve Adams - alto // Larry Ochs - tenor, sopranino // Jon Raskin - baritone // Gino Robair & William Winant - drums, percussion

Recorded June 10 +11, 2005 by Myles Boisen and Jefferson Wilson at Kanbar Hall, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Concert produced by Rova:Arts. Mix-down in 2006 by Monte Vallier and Larry Ochs at Function 8, San Francisco. Mastered by Myles Boisen at Headless Buddha Studios, Oakland, CA . Special thanks to all the musicians involved for their dedication to the music.
Upcoming Shows

Jon Raskin & Gino Robair Duo
Also appearing Wummin
Friday, March 28th
9:00 pm

Jon Raskin & Kanoko Nishi Duo
Wednesday, April 9
9:00 pm

3043 24th St. at Treat St.
San Francisco

Good News! – Emerging Composer Award
Carla Kihlstedt commissioned to compose for Rova

We’re excited to announce that Rova is one of the recipients of the 2007 Emerging Composer Awards from the William and Flora Hewlett and Wallace Alexander Gerbode foundations. This will fund a commission from Carla Kihlstedt who will write a piece for Rova based on 19th Century letters describing the impact of the Industrial Revolution. Carla plans a half-hour piece in eight movements, with one of the letters being read before each movement. The piece will be developed in workshops with Carla and the Quartet and will be premiered in San Francisco.

Favorite Street: Larry Ochs
No news is good news

I just finished reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. “Just before” that I attempted to read all of Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill. The Blackwater book is the unauthorized history of one of the major benefactors of the private war in Iraq. It’s an unpleasant read in the sense that it tells you way more than you want to know about what your government is doing in your name, but everyone would do well to check out the first and last chapters, in case you’re still unsure about what’s continuing to go down there. The Klein book is a masterpiece, a must read really, that – if people were framing the debate about Iraq and foreign relations in this way in general – would completely close out any arguments of our right/need/ mission abroad. But it’s a very, very difficult read. The first chapter hits you over the head pretty hard, and each chapter following is blow to the psyche of any American (from the United States; if you’re a South American your reaction will be quite different), at just how extraordinarily much evil there is in our country’s very recent history. I would read maybe one or two chapters and then walk away for a week before I could take it on again What’s amazing and totally unexpected is that in the final chapter, Klein radiates hope for the future, and really gives hope that an end to all this madness might be not so far way. Check it out.

And from Russia with love
I AM CUBA is a great film that many of us discovered when Milestone Films discovered and restored the film in 1995. Milestone released the film in a new print for DVD late last year, and I would say that it’s even better on DVD. The film is a fictionalized, panoramic view of the Cuban revolution as seen through the eyes of Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov and cinematographer Sergei Uruzevsky, both of whom visited Cuba, fell in love with the people, and filmed this amazing work in the early sixties. What makes it so great on DVD is that one can watch scenes with total concentrated intensity, and then as soon as your concentration begins to flag, turn off the box, returning to it with fresh eyes a little later. In other words, the film, for me, doesn’t really work when watched all at once. The pacing is just too slow, but each scene or vignette taken on its own is incredible, beautiful, poetic. And speaking about music, the early scene in a “club” there is extraordinary musically- (and visually-) speaking and worth renting/buying just for that. Definitely a film worth seeing more than once...

But what’s really invaluable about this new Milestone deluxe boxed set is that it includes an excellent and comprehensive documentary of the director. The film highlights of his other films contained in this doc are absolutely breath taking. As soon as I could I rented his film “The Red Tent” about a mission to the North Pole that goes awry. Shot pretty much entirely at the North Pole in rugged conditions, this was Kaltozov’s one “international” major film, and as such it stars Peter Finch, Sean Connery, Claudia Cardinale, and a slew of unknown (to me) but excellent Russian and Italian actors, with a killer soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. Kind of a spaghetti western vibe twice removed to the North Pole and sifted through the mind of a Russian. Great… And then there’s the film “The Cranes Are Flying,” another Kalatozov film just released on Criterion. Haven’t gotten to this one yet, but if the rest of the film is anything like the clips in the doc, well I can recommend it now just based on the clips.

Recommended listening:
The Advocate (Tzadik) Derek Bailey, the great improvising guitarist who died in 2006, and Tony Oxley, still going strong and performing often with Cecil Taylor, recorded together in 1973. Those tapes have been released now on Tzadik; remarkable. But perhaps the strongest piece on the CD is Oxley’s solo piece recorded in 2006 and dedicated to Bailey, including his electronics set-up. It’s absolutely riveting and of course uses “space” – the silence between the sound that was so much a part of Bailey’s playing aesthetic – to beautiful effect.

Carla Kihlstedt / Satoko Fujii – Minamo As you may have seen earlier in the newsletter, Carla Kihlstedt now has a commission to write a large work for Rova in 2010. If you’re reading this newsletter, it’s fairly certain you’ve heard Carla perform, but less certain that you’ve heard Satoko or this duo. In fact Rovaté 2002 (Rova:Arts annual collaborative event) featured a big band version of Orkestrova with all music composed by Satoko Fujii and Steve Adams. At that event we also heard this duo for the first time, and a good portion of this CD comes from those concerts, recorded at the time by KFJC; the rest of the CD is from a live concert in Wels where I invited them to see if they could make the magic happen a second time. Now you get to hear these beautiful violin, piano duets which deftly mix the feeling of the classical violin-sonata formation with the aesthetics of improvisation; sublime music deftly mastered by Myles Boisen.

Maybe Monday- Unsquare (Intakt)– Elsewhere in the newsletter is a mention of my new self-produced CD The Mirror World. But if you can’t handle a $65 collector’s edition and plan to wait for the “normal” release in May, let me recommend a brand new release I produced for Intakt with Maybe Monday. Miya Masaoka, Fred Frith and I started performing as a trio in 1998. In this configuration, Miya plays not only her koto but also an arsenal of electronics and digital sounds and effects that are triggered by the koto strings. For this recording we went into the studio with special guests Carla Kihlstedt (violin and efx), Gerry Hemingway (drums), Ikue Mori (electronics) and Zeena Parkins (el harp), and recorded 8 septet pieces in 3 hours, five of which made the cut for this CD. It’s a series of landscapes or tone poems that make up a beautiful arc, in my humble opinion, and comprise a fine example of free improvisation at its best.

Photography: Chris Marker
Chris Marker, the legendary film-maker now in his ‘80s has just published a new book of photography called Staring Back. Go find it. Both the brief texts and the photos in the context of those texts are quietly stunning.
RadiOM – Improv:21 series archived online
Want to sample some of the earlier Improv:21 informances? We will be uploading one show evey two months to (the web site of Other Minds) until the entire series is online. And there is a lot of information in each show.

Here's what's available at the moment:
Nels Cline
Fred Frith
Carla Kihlstedt
Gino Robair
Oliver Lake To get news from Other Minds click here.
Contribute to Rova:Arts
Rova’s been active on the international art music scene for more than 3 decades. Rova:Arts, formed in 1986 to support the activities of Rova, has been instrumental in developing local activities and advancing an ongoing cultural exchange between local Bay Area artists and the international scene through its Rovaté concert series. These events, made possible by funding to Rova:Arts, have engaged Bay Area musicians and composers as well as musicians from around the world. And, as is the case with the Rovaté 2005 project, The Mirror World (on tour in Europe this month), Rova:Arts projects often are reproduced in other parts of the world, thereby bringing the work to a broader audience. Also, many Rova:Arts events have been recorded and have been highly acclaimed.

Rova:Arts has produced the Improv:21 series, providing a forum for innovative musicians like John Zorn, Fred Frith, Oliver Lake, Miya Masaoka, Roscoe Mitchell, Zeena Parkins and others to share their artistic visions and unique paths to creativity, with you the audience, in an intimate setting.

Click here to find out more and to Join Rova:Arts. Thanks for being part of the art.