:: FEB - MAR 2015 ::

In This Dispatch:

Ritual 2: future numbers

Channeling Coltrane

Matches: Two Evenings of Duet Improvisations

News for European Listeners: Rova Joins Kato-Bookbird

+1, Guest Contributors, Nels Cline & Vinny Golia

Favorite Street: Steve Adams

Rova Member Shows

New Larry Ochs - Donald Robinson CD!

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 Vinny Golia and Nels Cline. 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.

As I write this, February 4, 2015, Rova celebrates the 37th anniversary since our first concert at Mills College, Oakland in 1978. That was a busy year, and 2015 promises to be even fuller—with concerts, tours, recordings and special projects. (Not surprisingly, collaborations were even afoot in those early years.) See below for news on upcoming concerts with dance company, inkBoat; the March 13th San Francisco premiere screening of Channeling Coltrane; a special two-evening Rova-player duo series, Matches; and concerts by individual Rovas. Be sure to check out Larry Ochs’ and Don Robinson’s new duo CD, The Throne (info below). 

Ritual 2: future numbers

Rova meets inkBoat, Feb. 20-21. Photo by Jamie Lyons

Friday & Saturday, February 20-21

Ritual 2: future numbers 

Choreography by inkBoat & Compositions by Rova & John Zorn

Rova:Arts presents inkBoat and Rova in a special collaborative “workshop performance”—a beginning stage for a new collaboration that will culminate summer 2015 when Shinichi Iova-Koga/inkBoat, and Dancers’ Group ONSITE, present 95 RITUALS. This February show will be the insider’s chance to see these two Bay Area groups launch into the process of creativity; a chance to see 7 artists—all steeped in the 21st century discipline called “structured improvisation”—as they come to grips with exciting concepts and ideas for the first time, in pieces composed by John Zorn and Rova. That “first time” can often be the most explosive and exciting period, full of possibility and discovery.

Join us for this exciting adventure! Seats are very limited at Joe Goode Annex. There are only 46 seats, thus we encourage you to buy tickets from Brown Paper Tickets as soon as possible for the show on February 21, 2015.

Founded by Shinichi Iova-Koga in 1998, inkBoat is a physical theatre & dance company built by and with the collaborative efforts of choreographers, musicians, dancers, actors, visual artists and directors. Presenting in environments ranging from proscenium theatre to site specific, inkBoat’s performances mix experimentalism and humor with a hint of the grotesque. Joining Shinichi for this collaborative show will be Dana Iova-Koga and Dohee Lee.

Friday, Feburary 20, 7:00 pm - OAKLAND
Mills College Art Museum
5000 MacArthur Boulevard
Oakland 94613
See Map for Directions

Saturday, February 21, 8:00 pm – SAN FRANCISCO
Joe Goode Annex
401 Alabama St. (at 17th and Alabama)
San Francisco 94110
See Map for Directions


Channeling Coltrane on Film and Video

March 13, 7:00 pm at YBCA


San Francisco Premiere

"The film of the 2012 Guelph performance is a major event in the documentation of free improvisation.
We may hear Ascension more clearly, both as a work of art and as a moment in the history of jazz, 
as a result of Rova’s efforts."

- Stuart Broomer, Point of Departure

Two films by John Rogers:
Rova Saxophone Quartet’s
Electric Ascension, Live at the Guelph Jazz Festival is a concert video of Electric Ascension performed at the River Run Centre in Guelph, Ontario on September 7, 2012.

Called, “the most vexatious work in jazz history,” by music critic Gary Giddins, and famed for its monumental scale and raw emotional power, John Coltrane’s 1965 milestone recording, Ascension, has been re-imagined and rearranged for live performances by a large improvising ensemble led by the Rova Saxophone Quartet.

True to Coltrane’s intentions, the sonic landscape of Electric Ascension changes for every performance, depending on the cast of musicians, and the tenor of the moment.

San Francisco producer/director John Rogers, after working for several years on a documentary on Electric Ascension, had been looking for an opportunity to put together a multi-camera shoot of an entire performance. When Electric Ascension was invited to the Guelph Jazz Festival outside of Toronto, said Mr. Rogers, “We knew we had to find a way to film it. Miraculously, people came out of the woodwork that wanted to help us get it done.” 

Working with award winning San Francisco sound mixer, Jim McKee, the filmmakers and the band have lavished attention on the Surround Sound, Dolby 5.1 soundtrack, which will be available on the Blu-Ray Disc. 

This 68-minute performance is currently available for showings and can be accompanied by Cleaning the Mirror, a documentary by John Rogers on the musical history and creative process behind Electric Ascension.

Friday, March 13, 7:00 pm
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street
San Francisco


Matches: Two Evenings of Duet Improvisations

Saturday & Sunday, March 21 – 22

Matches: Two Evenings of Duet Improvisations

Over two nights, Rova Quartet members will team up with long-time associates and first-time co-conspirators to present 4 sets of duo performances. Hear the Rovas work outside their ‘comfort’ zones, investigating possibilities with fellow travelers.

Saturday, March 21, 8:00 pm
Steve Adams + Vinny Golia, woodwinds
Jon Raskin + Teddy Rankin-Parker, cello

Like-minded multi-instrumentalists Steve Adams and Vinny Golia have been playing together since 1988 in a wide variety of ensembles, though rarely as a duo. The C4NM concert will feature Steve’s new 30 minute piece A Mysterious Abundance of Quinces for bass flute, contra alto clarinet and electronics, as well as pieces from their CD Circular Logic. Their infrequent performances as a duo showcase the essence of their versatility and musicality.

Raskin and Teddy Rankin-Parker will perform together for the first time.

Sunday, March 22, 8:00 pm 
Larry Ochs + Donald Robinson, drums
Bruce Ackley + Tania Chen, piano, toys and vintage and lo-fi electronics, etc.

After 10 years in Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core, preceded by 8 years together in the Glenn Spearman Double Trio, not to mention 8 years together in the trio What We Live with bassist Lisle Ellis, Ochs and Robinson finally decided in 2011 to bite the bullet and focus on the duo.

Ackley and Tania Chen will perform together for the first time.

Tania Chen

The Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street
San Francisco

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


News for European Listeners: Rova Joins Kato-Bookbird 

News for European Listeners:

Rova Joins Kato-Bookbird

for European tours and Electric Ascension appearances

This past summer the Larry Ochs – Don Robinson Duo appeared at Nickelsdorf Konfrontationem in Austria. This is a 4-day summer festival in a very small town near Hungary; it’s a long-time festival exclusively for free jazz and improvised music. The audience members who stay for all 4 days hear a ton of great music and inevitably interact with the musicians including discussions about the music. It’s a truly inspiring hang. In this way, Larry Ochs met Riccarda Kato and Ralf Dick in a lively discussion with Chicago drummer Michael Zerang. Ochs found out after returning to the states that these two interesting people were booking Zerang and others, and he made contact with them again by email. We’re happy to say that as of 2015 Rova is collaborating with Riccarda and Ralf on a November 2015 tour in Europe that looks to include at least one and maybe more performances of Electric Ascension. (And very much hoping to also have the DVD/BluRay package out by the time of that November tour.)

You can see Rova + Electric Ascension’s project-pages on the Kato-Bookbird website


+1, Guest Contributors, Nels Cline & Vinny Golia

Nels Cline meets obscure object of desire

Some recollections of Lee Kaplan and The Century City Playhouse concerts, late 70s-early 80s

by Nels Cline

I was planning on writing this piece for ROVA's pages on some recent music memoirs and biographies; there has been quite the avalanche, it seems. Many are excellent, and all that I have read so far are at least fascinating. For the record, my favorite, Galadrielle Allman's "Please Be With Me" and Herbie Hancock's "Possibilities" were to be the most prominently featured, along with Richard Hell's "I Dreamed I was A Very Clean Tramp" and the utterly fascinating collection of Jimi Hendrix's journal entries and interviews called "Starting From Zero". BUT… I just finished a short run of West Coast concerts with guitarist Julian Lage, and every time I return to the west I am assailed by people and places of my past. It was on the left coast that I began my forays into concertizing, playing what I will call improvised music, though much of it was, and still is, composed… But as I ran into certain individuals whom I have known for way longer than I am conscious of - people like Henry Kaiser, Wayne Horvitz, and Larry Ochs - I began to really readdress how we all started to connect. Sometimes the obvious becomes obscured by time, by baggage, by denial, by the blur of present events. It all started for me with a High School friend named Lee Kaplan. Without going into too much backstory and while attempting to resist going down the dozens of side roads possible along this trip, my goal is to show what can happen when one person - a single individual - decides to change things, to try to make things happen, for whatever reason (and there is usually more than one). So here goes…

[Read more]

Vinny Golia meets tubax

My History Concerning Large Ensembles and Improvisation

by Vinny Golia

Musical Influences

James Bond and Olatunji - unlikely partners? No. Both were childhood influences who later determined one of my courses of action concerning large ensembles and improvisation. As a kid, when stereo sets were becoming readily available, I went to the surplus store and bought speakers, wires, and clips, and put as many extra speakers as I could mount around the house, so that I could experience the drive and intensity of African drumming by Olatunji, especially his album Drums of Passion, which is what drums were to me then and still are today. Olatunji was one of the first Nigerians to bring the art of African drumming to the United States. The glorious sounds and sheer force of those drums! I can still hear those rhythms and tones now, years and years, decades later.

[Read more]


Favorite Street - Steve Adams

Ai Wei Wei

I’ve been catching a lot of work lately that deals with repetition in a combinatorial way that I find really interesting, where a small set of ideas get obsessively recombined. One was the theater production The Old Woman with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe, directed by Robert Wilson with music by Hal Willner at Cal Performances. It’s based on absurdist texts by the Soviet era author Daniil Kharms, and was brilliantly realized in all aspects. It was easily the most visually impressive stage show I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any good videos of it.

Another was the SF Contemporary Music Players Project TenFourteen concert with three great pieces by George Crumb. The highlight for me, though, was two solo voice pieces by Georges Aperghis, Recitations 9 and 10, stunningly performed by soprano Tony Arnold. There’s a video of her version of Crumb’s Madrigals, Book III and one of the Aperghis piece performed by Sarah Maria Sun. There are three more concerts in the TenFourteen series coming up at Cal Performances, which look great. 

Aperghis’ work deals with repetition and obsession, and has a kinship with the work of Samuel Beckett, notably his piece Not I. The recent passing of Billie Whitelaw got me thinking about her definitive performance of it, which is available online, with a short remembrance of her work with Beckett. Speaking of obsession, there’s also a good video of the “sucking stones” passage from Beckett’s Molloy, one of my all-time favorites.

I saw the Ai Wei Wei installation at Alcatraz, which is well worth the effort and expense to see. Fantastic work and use of the space.  


Rova Member Shows

Monday, February 9, 8:00 pm

Existence Quartet

Bruce Ackley - woodwinds
Satoko Fujii – piano
Kappa Maki – trumpet
Jordan Glenn - drums

Featuring new compositions by Bruce Ackley and Kappa Maki, this new quartet brings together the Berlin-based artists, Satoko Fujii and Maki with Rova’s Ackley, and Bay Area percussionist, Jordan Glenn. The group is a convergence of distinct approaches to making thoughtfully crafted improvisations.

The Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street
San Francisco


Wednesday, February 18, 7:30 pm

Bruce Ackley – Nava Dunkelman Duo & Matthew Goodheart Solo

Bruce Ackley - woodwinds
Nava Dunkelman - percussion
Matthew Goodheart – solo piano

Tom’s Place
3111 Deakin Street, Berkeley CA


Monday, March 9, 8:30 pm

Adams / Boisen / Rowe at Spice Monkey 

Steve Adams - woodwinds
Myles Boisen - guitar
Tim Rowe - drums

Spice Monkey 
1628 Webster
$5-10 sliding scale


New Larry Ochs - Donald Robinson CD!

Now available for download at BandCamp or the actual CD can be purchased online at Squidco and Downtown Music Gallery (if ordering in North America) or from the label's website if ordering from Europe.

Ochs and Robinson began playing together in 1991, but this is the first duo recording. For those of you into the Sax-Drum duos (or the single horn or string instrument - drummer duos) of jazz + improvised music history, this one is for you. After 10 years in Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core, preceded by 8 years together in the Glenn Spearman Double Trio, not to mention 8 years together in the trio What We Live with bassist Lisle Ellis, Ochs and Robinson finally decided in 2011 to bite the bullet and focus on the duo. Spare, direct and rocking; this CD is the result, releasing on the label Not Two for 2015. From the New York City Jazz Record December issue: "Pared down to a saxophone-percussion duo, it’s fitting that their debut disc, The Throne, starts with a dedication to Spearman, titled “Open to the Light”. Ochs’ tenor is hard-bitten and gritty, but sounds open against limber shove from Robinson’s kit. “Red Tail” has a boppish cut-and-run feel, Ochs letting fly with burred multiphonics and withering growls, staccato narrows kept buoyant by Robinson’s athletic funk. “Song 2” is imbued with the toothy, bar-line avoidant blues that one might hear in a Charles Brackeen or Joe McPhee, set beautifully against the slap of brushes. In the nearly 48 years since Coltrane and Rashied Ali recorded Interstellar Space there have been quite a number of fine saxophone-drum duets, so it’s a real pleasure to hear one that actually stands up with the most compelling examples—and in an honest, unassuming fashion."


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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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