? rova:arts | On Rova's Radar
:: MAY - JUN 2016 ::

In This Dispatch:

Figure 8: Rova Sax Octet Show

Other Upcoming Rova Shows

+1: Glenn Siegel - Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares

Rova Channeling Coltrane: New All-in-one DVD/Bluray/CD

New Larry Ochs CD: JONES JONES - The Moscow Improvisations

ringtones and flingbones - Electronic Works by Steve Adams

Rova Member Shows

Rova T-Shirts!

Figure 8: Rova Sax Octet Show

Vinny Golia on tubax. Photo by Matthew Campbell.

Rain check. In January of this year, the historic New York City blizzard that hit town prevented the intrepid Rovas from presenting one of our most celebrated legacy collaborations, Figure 8: music for 8 saxophones. Larry and Steve had put a lot of effort into reconnecting all the dots comprising Larry’s compositional arrangements for the four pieces, first presented in Oakland and San Francisco in 1993, and later in Munich and Nickelsdorf, Austria later in the ‘90s. We’re stoked to revisit this body of work with such inspiring fellow saxophonists, which explores so much woodwind territory in deeply compelling ways.

The music consists of 4 compositions by Larry Ochs, commissioned by Saalfelden Jazz Festival (Austria) and later partly revised before recording them for the Italian label, Black Saint. It took Steve Adams—with some assistance from the composer—several weeks to construct new parts for this 2016 show, deciphered and reconstructed from Ochs’ 23-year-old seriously-faded, hand-written scores, scraps and revisions. Revisiting the recording, the charts and the concepts has made clear the music’s lasting value. Eight saxophones! Like a small choir, or like a sky full of birds, or a wave of sounds; very exciting sounds. And, like all our work, this set is based in large measure on “structured improvisations”; as a result, we (and you) will find the music full of surprises.

The unexpected is certain, since three of the eight saxophonists in this octet are new to the compositions, and will certainly bring new sounds, ideas, and energy into the mix. The three players added for this 21st-Century redux are the perennially imaginative Aram Shelton, Cory Wright and Phillip Greenlief. And, we happily import Vinny Golia from Los Angeles, who recorded the pieces with us in 1995, and who urged Ochs to revive this project. He’ll travel north with his magical bass sax, his baritone sax, and the mighty (tiny) soprillo sax for the concert.

Rova +4 will play for each other and for you; so come on out.

Rova +
Vinny Golia
Phillip Greenlief
Aram Shelton
Cory Wright

ODC Commons
351 Shotwell Street, near 17th Street
San Francisco


Event funded in part by Grant for the Arts, San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund


Other Upcoming Rova Shows

Saturday, June 4, 8:00 PM

Rova + 1, Part 2: featuring Dohee Lee and Wobbly 

Performers Dohee Lee, Wobbly

Set 1 – Dohee Lee guests with her voice, electronics, and intensity. Ochs and Lee collaborate on a set-long structure for improvisation for the 5 musicians.

Set 2 - LUAU AXE QUIZ - A new work by Steve Adams for the Rova Sax Quartet and special guest Wobbly on electronics—a concerto for electronic sounds—with saxes underneath, beside, inside and around the sound: a toolkit of possibilities to confront the actualities of realization.

Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street near Market
San Francisco

Tuesday, June 21, 5:00 - 9:00 PM

Rova Plays in the "Garden of Memory" 

Join Rova and something like 100 other musicians at the annual Summer Solstice celebration of Bay Area Music. Rova plays multiple sets from 5 to 9 pm. Simultaneous shows in myriad rooms throughout the Chapel.

The Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont Avenue


+1: Glenn Siegel: Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares

Glenn Siegel produces the Magic Triangle Jazz Series and the Solos & Duos Series at UMASS and has produced A World of Piano, a series of solo piano concerts for the Northampton Center for the Arts. For 27 years he served as Administrative Advisor to WMUA-FM, the UMASS student and community radio station, where he produced a weekly program, Jazz in Silhouette. He is currently putting together season 5 of Jazz Shares.

Over two evenings in the summer of 2012, my partner Priscilla Page and I invited to our home about 70 friends and neighbors who share our love of creative music. I’ve been producing jazz concerts for almost 30 years for the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Each season I would receive many more worthy gig requests than I could honor. With a limit on how many University concerts I could produce each year (six), and without the personal resources to just write checks, I got tired of saying “Sorry, no” to some of my musical heroes. I knew there must be another way to bring these great musicians to town.

The idea I presented at those initial gatherings was simple, borrowed from the farm share or Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, where people pay money to the farmer up front, months before the first tomato ripens, in exchange for a weekly share of the summer bounty. With money in hand (and without going into debt), the farmer can then afford to repair equipment, buy seeds and hire staff. If the strawberries get hit with blight, it’s not just the farmer who bears the brunt; the group cushions the loss. We prosper and share the risk together. Consumers are not merely consumers; we are also producers, vital to the endeavor, nurturers of the project. The community decides that it’s important to have a thriving, locally based, organic food production system, so we create and support one.

Just as plants are dependent on the sun, clean water and healthy soil to thrive, the music needs paying gigs and an appreciative audience to reach full flower. Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares is helping to build that rich inch of topsoil that stands between us and a barren cultural landscape. We are an all-volunteer, grass roots non-profit, operating outside the corporate mind-shaping machine, dealing directly with musicians working beyond the mainstream.

[To read Glenn Siegel's complete article click here.]



Rova Channeling Coltrane: All-in-one DVD/Bluray/CD

Rova Channeling Coltrane, the new Bluray/DVD/CD all-in-one package had its official 2016 release on the Paris label Rogue Art in January. We can’t tell you how happy we are with the quality of this 3 disc package. You can purchase this directly from Rova now here, and we’ll send it out right away.

Rova Channeling Coltrane - Electric Ascension Live (RogueArt, 2016) *****
By Stef (The Free Jazz Collective Blog)

When John Coltrane's Ascension was released in 1966, jazz critic Bill Mathieu from Downbeat wrote "This is possibly the most powerful human sound ever recorded", an apt description of Coltrane's free jazz masterpiece. My Penguin Guide to Jazz says "If Coltrane had never recorded another note of music, he would be guaranteed greatness on the strength of Ascension alone". My Oxford Companion to Jazz calls it "one of his most awesome, daunting, recordings". Dave Liebman called it "the torch that lit the free jazz thing". It was a fourty minute long group improvisation with two trumpets (Freddie Hubbard and Dewey Johson), two altos (Marion Brown and John Tchicai), three tenors (Coltrane, Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders), two basses (Art Davis and Jimmy Garrison), one piano (McCoy Tyner) and one drums (Elvin Jones). This band of jazz icons improvises as a group around changing sound structures, alternated by solos of the band members, in this way shifting between sonic density and lightness, between rhythmic and a-rhythmic passages, playing with dissonance and harmony, resulting in music that sounds like rolling waves of sound full of musical power and relentless emotional weight. If you don't have it yet, run to the store now!

So why cover this masterpiece? Who has the audacity to think that it can be improved? Who has the arrogance to pretend people are waiting to hear a new version of it? I never understood why anyone would dare cover what is already sublime, a clear strategy for failure as the new version's mediocrity can only be obvious to anyone familiar with the original. But then it does happen! Already in 1995, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the piece, Rova took its first take on Coltrane's Ascension, and it took till 2005 for it to be released as a really strong album that does not try to emulate the orginal, but rather uses it and gives it a different direction without relinquishing what makes the original powerful (ROVA::Orkestrova - Electric Ascension (Atavistic, 2005). Rova has played Ascension at various festivals and concerts in the past decades, with changing band members, but with pretty much the same instruments: four saxes, two violins, trumpet, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums and electronics, indeed, something else entirely than the original line-up of Coltrane's band.

Now, fifty years after Coltrane's original release, we get what we can already call one of the must-haves of the year, a musical event that will be hard to match, not only because of the music, but because of the total package: a CD, a Blue Ray and a DVD for what is called: "a 21st century reimagining and arrangement" of Coltrane's masterpiece.

And I can tell you that you will love the total package. The music itself was performed at the Guelph Jazz Festival in 2012, with the following band members: Bruce Ackley on soprano saxophone, Larry Ochs on tenor saxophone, Steve Adams on alto saxophone, Jon Raskin on baritone saxophone, Chris Brown and Ikue Mori on electronics, Hamid Drake on drums, Carla Kihlstedt and Jenny Scheinman on violin, Nels Cline on electric guitar, Fred Frith on electric bass, and Rob Mazurek on cornet.

They start with electronics to set the scene of today's sound, and then the whole band joins with the grand theme of the composition, followed by improvisation around it by all musicians together, a sonic firework of flowering notes that weave in and out of the theme based on hand signals by Jon Raskin ... and then the solos erupt out of the theme, mostly for duets or trios, sometimes highly energetic with fast-speed reactions to each other, sometimes in chamber music simplicity and calm, sometimes ferocious and wild, sometimes solemn and spiritual, sometimes with crackling electronic soundscapes, yet always full of purpose and focus for more than sixty minutes of musical delight, every so often falling back on grand joint harmonies which unravel again in new musical vistas in a wonderful eb-and-flow between collective interplay and intimate interaction between two or three individuals. This is no longer Coltrane, this is something else entirely, but in the spirit of the master, a modern piece of art that can stand on its own. Needless to say that all musicians are excellent and fully comfortable with the material, and if any names have to be mentioned then Carla Kihlstedt and Jenny Scheinman are worth highlighting because of their contribution to the overall sound, and their surprisingly free improvisations are exceptional (meaning I have never heard them perform in such a free context).

You get the performance on CD, obviously. On the BluRay, you get the entire concert in wonderful visual broadcast quality, filmed with more than a handful of cameras, with a director who knows what and who needs to be filmed when, which is usually one of the shortcomings of concert videos.

The DVD offers both the concert and "Cleaning the Mirror", a documentary by John Rogers on the concept of Electric Ascension, including insightful interviews with some of the fifty musicians who have performed the piece so far: Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs, Nels Cline, Andrew Cyrille, Art Davis, Jason Kao Hwang, Eyvind Kang, Rova, Jenny Scheinman, and Elliot Sharp. The documentary offers musical excerpts, archival photos, and behind the scenes footage.


New Larry Ochs CD: JONES JONES - The Moscow Improvisations

New from Larry Ochs and the trio JONES JONES:

The Moscow Improvisations

Mark Dresser: Bass
Vladimir Tarasov: percussion
Larry Ochs: tenor and sopranino saxophones

Recorded at the 2009 Moscow Biennale, live-to-stereo, but just now being released on the Not Two label. Available digitally or on CD.


ringtones and flingbones - Electronic Works by Steve Adams on Bandcamp

Now Available On Bandcamp


Rova Member Shows

Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22

The Skerries Sextet

Bill Horvitz and Steve Adams in Action

Bill Horvitz - guitar and composer
Steve Adams - saxophones and flutes
Cory Wright - saxophones and clarinet
Hal Forman - trumpet and flugelhorn
Scott Walton - bass
Zach Morris - drums


Saturday, May 21, 8:00 PM

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists
1924 Cedar Street (corner of Bonita Ave. in Northside Berkeley)

Sunday, May 22, 7:00 PM

The Arlene Francis Center
99 West Sixth Street (corner of Wilson in Railroad Square)
Santa Rosa


Sunday, May 22, 9:00 PM

JONES JONES in Los Angeles

Larry Ochs with Mark Dresser, bass and Vladimir Tarasov, percussion

The Blue Whale
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka Street, Suite 301
Los Angeles


Monday, May 23, 7:30 PM

Adams / Greenlief / Hammond / Bafus

Phillip Greenlief

Steve Adams and Phillip Greenlief - woodwinds
Ross Hammond - guitar
Jon Bafus - drums

Nebraska Mondays at the Luna Café 
1414 16th Street


Tuesday, May 24, 8:00 PM

JONES JONES in San Diego

The Loft at UC San Diego
Prince Center East, 4th Floor
9500 Gilman Drive MC 0077
La Jolla


Saturday, May 28, 6:00 PM

JONES JONES in Berkeley

Larry Ochs - tenor and sopranino saxes
Mark Dresser - bass
Vladimir Tarasov - drums

House concert in Berkeley. 6:00 pm: Rova’s Larry Ochs with, from San Diego, Mark Dresser (bass) and, from Vilnius, Lithuania, Vladimir Tarasov (drums). Only Bay Area appearance in 2015 or 2016 by this very special long-time improvising unit. Wine and cheese served. Limited seating. Contact for reservations and address: harry@fullplatemedia.com


Monday, May 30, 9:00 PM


Premiere Performance!

Steve Adams - baritone sax
Alisa Rose - violin
Theo Padouvas - clarinet
Vijay Anderson - drums

Studio Grand
3234 Grand Avenue


Rova T-Shirts!

Check out the design below, featuring an image shot by our friend, Finnish photographer, Lauri Nykopp, which is printed on quality black tees. THE SHIRTS ARE VERY LIMITED EDITION. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Available in XXL – XL – L - M

US: $20 + tax $1.75 + shipping $4 US = $25.75 Foreign: $20 + tax $1.75 + shipping $8 = $29.75

Click here to order your t-shirt


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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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