:: APR - MAY 2015 ::
Rova photo by Georg Pillwein

In This Dispatch:

Channeling Coltrane

Rova Shows

+1, Guest Contributors, Ava Mendoz & Wayne Horvitz

Favorite Street: Jon Raskin

Rova Member Shows

Join the Rova:Arts Community

If you’re seeing this communiqué for the first time, well, in a way so are we all. We’ve renamed it and added a new look to it, hoping that more people will want to read what’s inside. This issue features words from Ava Mendoza and Wayne Horvitz. Forthcoming, each Rova dispatch will feature musicians and other artists we dig, speaking about whatever they feel like turning us readers on to. And we will continue to feature one of the Rova members doing the same in the continuing “Favorite Street” column. If you would rather not receive this, just let us know, or delete your name from the email list by going to the bottom of this MailChimp email. But, if you would like to tip friends off to On Rova’s Radar, we do post each newsletter online at our website.

Last weekend Rova:Arts presented the premiere performance of the Rova String Quartet at the Center for New Music, along with a set by Rova “classic”. This new, unorthodox string quartet features Christina Stanley, violin; Tara Flandreau, viola; Alex Kelley, cello; and Scott Walton, bass. The foursome played a riveting set of structured improvisations—with Rova members directing the action using their signature hand-cued strategies. The concert was intended as a prelude to, and preparation for, Rovaté 2015, set for June 29th this summer.

Rova will present new works at their next show, April 17, head to Albuquerque and Santa Fe later in the month, and play the Penofin Jazz Festival in northern California on May 9. See details about all shows below.

Channeling Coltrane


Two films completed in 2013 by Ideas in Motion have been sitting in limbo while awaiting official permission to release them on DVD and BluRay. The time in limbo is over, and it appears that the Channeling Coltrane package will be released in January 2016. A working production plan is now being formalized with the excellent Paris label, Rogue Art.

The release will include:

  • A DVD which includes the both documentary Cleaning the Mirror that explains the why and how behind the music. Plus a DVD version of Rova’s tribute to John Coltrane’s Ascension recorded live in 2012.
  • The BluRay version of the 67-minute concert video. If you have been debating whether or not to spend $150 (or really less) on a good BluRay device, this will add one more reason to do it. Not only will you get the 5.1 Surround Sound version of the concert video but you will also have the “Extra,” available on BluRay only, that allows you to literally raise the volume on any one player in the band for as long as you’d like to study what they are up to within the orchestral sound that is Electric Ascension.
  • A stereo CD of the live performance for your listening pleasure.

Much more on this as we get closer to the release.


Rova Shows

Friday, April 17, 8 pm

Rova Sax Quartet: New Works for Sax Quartet

New pieces by Larry Ochs, Bruce Ackley, Steve Adams and Jon Raskin for Rova. Over the past few years, sequential collaborations and other side projects, plus the fact that the group’s improvising skills have been getting more magical on their own, led to there being less time for individual compositions. Except from the pen of Steve Adams, there were not many new quartet pieces being introduced into the band. Elaborate formal structures to improvise within—yes—but not many pieces involving both notation and improvisation. We’ll also premiere a new work dedicated to Lenny Bruce, written especially for Rova, from the pens and brushes of saxophonist, composer, Phillip Greenlief.

With several touring concerts on the horizon in late April and early May and with a temporary lull in the collaborative projects, it seemed a good idea to “deadline” April 17 as the point where new pieces for the quartet and by the quartet would be presented. Sure to be an exciting night.

Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street (just north of Market Street)
San Francisco

Thursday-Friday, April 23-24

Rova on Tour: Albuquerque, Santa Fe

Thursday, April 23, 7:30 pm
Outpost Performance Space
210 Yale SE (2 blocks south of Central)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
PHONE: (505) 268-0044

Friday, April 24, 7:30 pm
GIG Space
1808 Second St., Suite H
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Saturday, May 9 (Rova performs at 5:00 pm)

22nd Annual Penofin Jazz Festival

Penofin Jazz Festival is a one-of-a-kind single-afternoon mini-fest taking place just outside Ukiah, California in Potter Valley on Saturday May 9, 2015. Rova will perform a specially selected set of repertoire to close out the festival at about 5 PM. Appearing before us at about 3 or 3:30 PM will be the great Peter Brotzmann Trio with Hamid Drake and William Parker. Preceding them a quartet you might be less familiar with but would be happy to have heard: Rich Halley Quartet. Rich is a strong tenor player from Portland (as well as the curator of the festival.) And opening the show at 1 PM with what sounds like a fine trio from Los Angeles: Do Tell Trio with Dan Clucas (cornet), Mark Weaver (Tuba) and Dave Wayne (drums).

The festival takes place in a large modern barn on a ranch in Potter Valley, about 2.5 hours up 101 from San Francisco. There is no admission fee, but you must be on the private guest list to get in, and you must have tickets mailed to you in advance. Should you be interested to go, write us at rova@rova.org. SEND ALONG YOUR NAME, MAILING ADDRESS, and THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE COMING WITH YOU, and we will forward that information to the festival boss. First come first served. The number we can put on that list is limited. So contact us, but only when you are really sure that you and your friends will be able to come. And feel free to tell others.

We will also send you the exact address so you can GPS yourselves up there by car. FYI: There will be food and beverages provided at the festival. Alcoholic beverages are BYOB.

Sunday, June 29, 8:00 pm

Rovaté 2015—No Favorites: An Homage to Lawrence "Butch" Morris

ODC Theater
3153 – 17th Street
San Francisco

Rovaté 2015 will feature Rova composing for and conducting an all-star band of Bay Area improvisers. This concert’s “OrkestRova” will present three extended works honoring the spirit of the music of the late great jazz artist, Butch Morris. The concert will be presented just prior to the ensemble entering Fantasy Studios to record the pieces.

OrkestRova will include: Rova plus a string quartet (Christina Stanley, Tara Flandreau, Alex Kelly and Scott Walton), and a ‘power trio’ of electric guitar, electric bass, and drums (John Shiurba, Jason Hoopes, Jordan Glenn). More details in the next issue of On Rova’s Radar.

Details on all events will be updated regularly on our website, and the Rova:Arts Facebook page. (Be sure to ‘like’ us!)


+1, Guest Contributors, Ava Mendoza & Wayne Horvitz

Guitarist, composer, Ava Mendoza

Give It Up for the Bands

by Ava Mendoza

I was born in 1983, toward the beginning of the generation of musicians who never had even the slightest hope of making real money off recorded music. The digital age blew into town in the '90s, and, maybe thankfully, I was none the wiser for it. I grew up sort of blissfully ignorant about the crumbling music industry, happily downloading music from Napster, practicing guitar, thinking it'd be nice to make a living as a musician someday, but oddly never really regarding physical albums as part of the potential living-making. That may have been just me, or it may be testament to how much the cultural value of recorded music had already dropped by the time I looked up to notice.

Whatever the case, recordings became secondary to performance for me early on. I was into my cd collection but I quickly learned that I loved live music and seeing musicians interact onstage more than any document. Of course getting into my twenties, I became friends with older musicians whose livelihoods were damaged by the record industry's nosedive. I witnessed their rightful anger at the situation, their bitterness and feelings of powerlessness, and also the ways that they found to adapt. Like it or not, I could still only think of recorded music as a Blip on the screen of music as a whole; hundreds, thousands of years of music making as livelihood by human beings, with one little century at the end of recorded music being part of that livelihood. My life existed at the tail end of that century-long Blip. Oh well!

Maybe a glib attitude, or maybe defeatist. But, it has worked positively on many levels for me to keep my value of material sales/anythings low and my value of playing live with people that inspire me in front of an audience high.

[Read more]

Pianist, composer Wayne Horvitz in Wonderland

Mark Miller: "The Listenable Years" A Remembrance (Part I)

by Wayne Horvitz

Our friend Mark Miller, aka M.E. Miller, passed away recently, and I thought I’d write a few words. Mark and I had not been particularly close for many years, but we kept in touch and saw each other from time to time. But for a few years, long ago, we were essentially best friends, and he was in many ways my first true musical partner, and a seminal part of my early years as a musician.

People familiar with Mark as a musician most likely know him from his time in New York City, his work with Charles K. Noyes and Toykillers, his involvement with Studio Henry, aka 0ne Morten Street, and so on. But a core group of musicians and artists, many of whom also became involved in the New York scene, first met Mark in Santa Cruz, and it is there that I will begin.

In the late 70’s Mark and I were part of a general migration from Santa Cruz to New York City that included a disproportionate amount of folks that contributed in ways, large and small, to what often gets referred to as “The Downtown Scene”.

[Read more]


Favorite Street - Jon Raskin

Cecil Taylor, Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants)


Cecil Taylor Segments II (Orchestra of Two Continents)
Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants)
Black Saint CD

This recording has been in rotation lately and the playing, composing, recording quality is exceptional. It was recorded in Milan at Studio 7 in October of 1984. The clarity in even the most complex moments is a joy. Taylor's playing is especially engaging, and there are a few passages that take my breath away.

Alto Saxophone, Voice – Jimmy Lyons (2)
Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Voice – Gunter Hampel
Bass, Voice – William Parker
Bassoon, Voice – Karen Borca
Drums, Percussion, Voice – Andre Martinez
Drums, Voice – Rashied Bakr
Piano, Voice – Cecil Taylor
Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Voice – John Tchicai
Tenor Saxophone, Voice – Frank Wright
Trumpet, Voice – Enrico Rava, Tomasz Stańko

Jorrit Dijkstra
Music for Reeds and Electronics

This was a great project, and I’m especially happy with it because I got to do some electronics as well as play some great music for saxophone, and with a stellar ensemble.

Jorrit Dijkstra – alto saxophone, lyricon, analog electronics
Phillip Greenlief – alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet
Kyle Bruckmann – oboe, english horn, analog electronics
Frank Gratkowski – clarinet, alto saxophone
Jon Raskin – sopranino, alto and baritone saxophones, analog electronics

All compositions by Jorrit Dijkstra
Listen & Buy on Bandcamp

The Hear and Now
Jon Raskin

In 2004 Other Minds commissioned me to write a composition for an amazing group of musicians. The performance of The Hear and Now was recently released on OM Music and I couldn't be more pleased that this is available.

The Hear and Now is composed for improvisers and draws heavily on a form of structured improvisation developed by Rova which we have termed Radar. What really differentiates the Radar series from most structured improvisation is that its rules and operations are defined but the performers create the structures and sequence of events; the flow of sonic materials is decided in real time.

Gino Robair, conductor; Min Xiao-Fen, pipa; Kyaw Kyaw Naing, pat waing; Jiebing Chen, erhu; Shoko Hikage, koto; Sang Won Park, kayagum; Jim Santi Owen, tabla tarang
Rova Saxophone Quartet: Bruce Ackley, soprano and tenor saxophones, clarinet; Steve Adams, alto and soprano saxophones, flute; Larry Ochs, tenor and soprano saxophones; Jon Raskin, alto and baritone saxophones.

The score is also available.


Alan Lomax goes online
Folklorist Alan Lomax spent his career documenting folk music traditions from around the world. Now thousands of the songs and interviews he recorded are available for free online, many for the first time. It's part of what Lomax envisioned for the collection—long before the age of the Internet.

The Collected Recordings of Luigi Russolo’s (1885-1947)
Intonarumori Noise Machines

Luigi Russolo (30 April 1883 – 4 February 1947) was an Italian Futurist painter and composer, and the author of the manifesto The Art of Noises (1913). He is often regarded as one of the first noise music experimental composers with his performances of noise music concerts in 1913–14 and then again after World War I, notably in Paris in 1921.
Check out the recordings and manifesto.

The Media Burn
Ant Farm, 1975

San Francisco had never experienced a Fourth of July quite like it did in 1975, when a custom Cadillac drove through a pyramid of 45 flaming televisions at the Cow Palace. The Media Burn was a carefully engineered publicity stunt, but it also represents a high point of a Bay Area artistic movement that was fueled by the social and cultural revolutions of the times and ignited by a new technology – the first portable video cameras.
View on YouTube

Ali Akbar Khan Lessons
via the Ali Akbar Khan Library


I’ve been working on putting music to poetry, and the two books I’m currently engaged in with this are The Book of a Thousand Eyes by Lyn Hejinian and The Gardener of Stars by Carla Harryman. Carla and I started working on this project as a performance piece for 2 readers and electronics for the @Now2015 conference at California Institute for the Arts in late March. The performance worked so well that we’ll continue the project with additional sections.

I started working on The Book of a Thousand Eyes as a solo piece for electronics and assorted other instruments. It was quite a challenge as a performance and the next reiteration of the work will be with Tania Chen on piano, electronics and voice.

Written over the course of two decades, The Book of a Thousand Eyes was begun as an homage to Scheherazade, the heroine of The Arabian Nights who, through her nightly tale-telling, saved her culture and her own life by teaching a powerful and murderous ruler to abandon cruelty in favor of wisdom and benevolence. Hejinian’s book is a compendium of “night works”—lullabies, bedtime stories, insomniac lyrics, nonsensical mumblings, fairy tales, attempts to understand at day’s end some of the day’s events, dream narratives, erotic or occasionally bawdy ditties, etc. Though they may not be redemptive in effect, the diverse works that comprise The Book of a Thousand Eyes argue for the possibilities of a merry, pained, celebratory, mournful, stubborn commitment to life.

The Book of a Thousand Eyes by Lyn Hejinian (Omnidawn)

Carla Harryman describes Gardener of Stars as "an experimental novel that explores the paradise and wastelands of utopian desire." The book offers a mythic history of a post-historical city situated in a garden landscape whose inhabitants are engaged in perpetual tending, limitless generation. Their generatings and tendings take place in speculation and dream, practical and impractical invention, desire and copious sex—all facets of a politicized eros and an erotic politics.”

Gardener of Stars by Carla Harryman (Atelos)


Rova Member Shows

Monday, April 21, 8:00 pm

Ochs - Robinson Duo

Larry Ochs - saxophones
Don Robinson - drums

Luna Café
1414 16th Street

Saturday, May 23, 8:00 pm

The Fay Victor Ensemble

Fay Victor - voice
Steve Adams - woodwinds
Lisa Mezzacappa - bass
John Finkbeiner - guitar

California Jazz Conservatory
2087 Addison Street

Friday, May 29, 8:00 pm

The Book of a Thousand Eyes

Tania Chen - electronics, piano, voice
Jon Raskin - electronics, clarinet, concertina, voice

Jon and Tania are setting to music a selection of poems from poet Lyn Hejinian’s The Book of a Thousand Eyes.

Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street
San Francisco

Spectral on Tour

Spectral, featuring Larry Ochs with Dave Rempis and Darren Johnston
Review on Gapplegate
May 14 - Chicago, IL | Elastic Arts
May 15 - Lexington, KY | Outside The Spotlight
May 16 - Columbia, SC | Conundrum
May 17 - Asheville, NC | The Mothlight
May 19 - Cleveland, OH | The Bop Stop
May 20 - Hamilton, ON | Zula Presents @ Pearl Co.
May 21 - Buffalo, NY | Hallwalls
May 22 - New Haven, CT | Firehouse 12
May 23 - Philadelphia, PA | Ars Nova Workshop
May 24 - Baltimore, MD | Creative Differences

Tuesday, May 26, 8:00 pm

Cleaver, Cline + Ochs

Gerald Cleaver - drums
Nels Cline - electric guitar
Larry Ochs - saxophones

505 Waverly Ave.

Wednesday, May 27, 10:00 pm

Jones Jones

Mark Dresser - bass
Vladimir Tarasov - drums
Ochs - saxophones

The Stone
New York City

Saturday, May 30, 7:00 pm

Immediate Human Response

Andrew Drury - percussion
Miya Masaoka - koto, electronics
Ochs - saxophones

Soup & Sound House Concert Series
292 Lefferts Avenue


Ivan Ackley (February 16, 1993 – March 6, 2015)

This image captures a magical moment at an early New Music on the Mountain event in Marin County, California, depicting Bruce Ackley’s son, Ivan, moving to Rova on Mount Tamalpais, CA, September, 1997. We hope that Rova’s music will continue to inspire young people’s hearts to dance.

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About Rova:Arts

Rova:Arts, formed in 1986 to support the activities of Rova, has been instrumental in producing local projects 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. Rova:Arts projects are often reproduced in other parts of the world, thereby bringing the work to a broader audience. Also, many Rova:Arts events have been recorded, resulting in releases which have been enthusiastically celebrated.

Click here to find out more and to Join Rova:Arts. If you are interested in getting involved in a more hands-on-way, feel free to contact us: http://www.rova.org/contact.html. Thanks for being part of the art.


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