:: May - June 2018 ::

New Rova CD, In Transverse Time, released March 2018

In This Dispatch:

What's Happening

New Rova CD: In Transverse Time

CD Release Concert and Other Local Rova Shows

Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville

Rova Member Shows

Ochs and Adams Recording Projects

RIP Cecil Taylor

What's Happening

In March Rova finally made its way back to the southeast U.S., after what turns out to have been a 20 year hiatus. From Orlando to Knoxville, Athens to Tuscaloosa, the band joyfully blew through recent repertoire, as well as a group of legacy works culled from the archives to celebrate our 40th. The crowds were welcoming and excited by the music, the organizers hospitable, the venues ideal, and the playing consistently high quality. The band is working at a super level, digging into this magic balance of both older and newer Rova music.

(Most of) Orkestrova at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, March 2018, photo: James Lindbloom

A highlight of the trip was Orkestrova’s rendering of Electric Ascension at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville. We had a knockout 13-piece ensemble that hit it right from the top, and kept the energy going for an hour and change. It was a marathon, alternating full-bore blowfests with intriguing and often breath-taking small group improvisations. Mazz Swift, Ches Smith, Yuka Honda, Okkyung Lee and Cyro Baptista were all on board for their first EA experience, augmented by Rova and stalwarts Jenny Scheinman, Nels Cline, Ikue Mori, and Devin Hoff. Raskin and Ochs did a stellar job of air traffic control, spinning scenarios and guiding the flow, each player going for broke as we offered our version of John Coltrane’s masterwork to a stunned Knoxville crowd. Rova also performed a quartet-only Sound in Space set at the Knoxville Art Museum.

Vintage photo of Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre, the site of Electric Ascension at Big Ears

The other 5 shows of the trip were quartet dates where we had the opportunity to play for hundreds of people for the first time. The feedback on the concerts and the material was overwhelmingly positive, confirming our deeper connection with the region. We hope to return soon!

Our new CD was released in March. Recorded in the fall of 2017, In Transverse Time is our progress report from the front, with contributions by each of the 4 Rovas. We’re excited to present this chronicle as we mark 4 decades of work and play together. We’ll celebrate the release on May 4 in San Francisco. Details about the concert, and how to get the CD are below. It was released on the Quebecois Victo label, which operates one of North America’s most significant improvised music gatherings, Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. Rova will travel to rural Quebec to perform there in May.

With the passing of Cecil Taylor we mourn the loss of one of the giants of contemporary music. As our friend Claude put it, “A great tree has fallen.” We’ll celebrate his music and our connection to Mr. Taylor with a special concert on June 10. And we’ll return to the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland to once again participate in the Garden of Memory Summer Solstice event.


New Rova CD: In Transverse Time

The release of In Transverse Time marks Rova's 40th anniversary, and the quartet's leap into a 5th decade of intrepid artistic activity. The disc is our first quartet-only CD since the 2012 A Short History, and features new compositions by each of the Rova members. Gorgeous renderings of each piece have been captured by sonic maestros, Myles Boisen and Philip Perkins.

1. Oxygen (Ackley) 7'43"
The Dark Forest Suite (Adams)
2. Introduction 1'28"
3. Song 1 2'36"
4. Song 2 3'05"
5. Song 3 2'13"
6. Song 4 2'36"
7. Coda 1'20"
8. A Leap of Faith in Transverse Time (Raskin) 5'51"
9. The Time Being (Raskin) 5'36"
10. Hidden in Ochre (Ochs) 24'15"

Oxygen, from the fall of 2016, employs an organizing method borrowed from Henry Kaiser. It also reflects this comment from bassist-composer, Barry Guy: "It is very important to be able to immerse yourself in the music and not allow the expressionistic aspects of the will to take over from the perceived balance of the structure". The work is dedicated to the memory of Bruce’s son, Ivan Graves Ackley.

The Dark Forest Suite was inspired by the Basiani Choir from the Republic of Georgia. As a Georgian poet said during our 1989 tour of the Soviet Union, “Let’s all go to the dark forest!”

The narrative improv structure of A Leap of Faith in Transverse Time trusts that the "leap of faith" developed over many years of playing together will give new insight to the material and directions proposed, and that the transverse sounds will delight and move the music forward. The Time Being started with Jon's fascination with a slow 17 beat pattern, and was written to give Steve's wonderful alto sound a nice place to shine.

Hidden in Ochre was originally created in 2016 to be performed by Rova in a resonant gallery, while surrounding the actions of Shinichi Iova-Koga, Dana Iova-Koga, and Dohee Lee of inkBoat Physical Theater.

You can purchase the CD by ordering it via Rova’s website: http://www.rova.org/projects/details-in-transverse-time.html, at our CD release concert in San Francisco in May, or at reputable music shops.


Local Rova Shows

Friday, May 4, 8:00 PM

Rova Plays San Francisco
Special In Transverse Time CD Release Concert

Join the quartet for a presentation of the music from our new CD, as well as legacy pieces culled from our repertoire. We’ll have stacks of In Transverse Time available at a special price. St. Cyprian’s Church has resonant acoustics, an ideal setting for the sound of Rova. S.F. Live Arts has a vibrant performance schedule at the church, and offers beer, wine, coffee, nonalcoholic drinks, and snacks for purchase.

S.F. Live Arts at Cyprian's
2097 Turk Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
$15 adv. / $20 door


Sunday, June 10, 7:00 PM

AIR: A Tribute to Cecil Taylor

Rova Presents 4 Guest Ensembles
+ A Special Larry Ochs’ Rova composition inspired by Cecil Taylor

Steve Adams / Clark Coolidge, words / Lisa Mezzacappa, bass
Bruce Ackley / Karl Evangelista, guitar / Andy Strain, trombone
Larry Ochs / Donald Robinson, drums
Jon Raskin / Darren Johnston, peace cannon / Vijay Anderson, drums / Safa Shokrai, bass
Rova performs an excerpt from Larry Ochs’ Certain Space, for Cecil Taylor

Struck by the loss of artistic giant Cecil Taylor in April, the Rovas felt compelled to pay respects to a hero. Each quartet member has invited guests to create special ensembles for the concert. The desire is to assemble groupings that enable the broader music community to participate in this farewell tribute to a man who impacted us all so much, both as creative artist and as a fearless and unapologetic innovator. Join Rova and 9 dedicated and inventive practitioners to explore sonic realms presaged by Taylor’s iconic work.

Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street
San Francisco, CA 94102


Thursday, June 21, 5:00 PM

Rova Plays the Garden of Memory

Along with dozens of Bay Area musical adventurers, Rova returns to Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes for the special Summer Solstice event, The Garden of Memory. Hosted by New Music Bay Area, this annual event draws thousands of listeners from the area for a sunset sonic ritual that includes a broad range of experimental music. During our 4 forty minute sets Rova will presents several versions of our newest group composition, NC-17.

Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611


Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville

Friday, May 18, 8:00 PM

Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville

Photos: Heike Liss, Image: Jim Ivy

Rova returns to the Victoriaville Festival in rural Quebec in May to perform there for the 3rd time.




Rova Member Shows

Friday, May 25, 8:30 PM

Larry Ochs / Donald Robinson Duo

Bird and Beckett
653 Chenery Street
San Francisco

Tuesday, June 5, 7:30 PM

Larry Ochs / Donald Robinson Duo

Tom's Place
3111 Deakin Street


Friday, July 18, 8:00 PM

Steve Lacy Project

Phillip Greenlief - Tenor Sax
Jon Raskin – Baritone Sax
Scott Amendola - Drums
Kjell Nordeson – Drums

The California Jazz Conservatory
2087 Addison Street

Presented by Jazz in the Neighborhood



Larry Ochs and Steve Adams Recording Projects


Dave Rempis – alto/baritone saxophones
Darren Johnston – trumpet
Larry Ochs – sopranino/tenor saxophones

Empty Castles is the third document of Spectral, a working horn trio split between the cities of San Francisco and Chicago that’s been active since 2012.  As with their previous two releases, 2014’s self-titled debut, and 2016’s digital-only Neutral Nation, this new recording showcases a free improvising band that fully embraces the term “instant composition.”  While their performances are known for thoughtful pacing and development, methodically spinning off complex structures from scratch with an unparalleled sense of architecture, the context for this new recording pushes that approach to a new extreme.  In this case, setting becomes character, like the spaceship in Alien, or the frozen landscape in Fargo, adding a new dimension to the band’s compositional process. 

Bunker A-168 is a 12,000-square foot concrete shell, perched slightly back from the water at the tip of the long peninsula known as Mare Island in Vallejo, CA, at the far northeast corner of San Francisco Bay. This long deserted mammoth, originally a munitions bunker in a former naval station dating back to WWII, is protected behind gates, set back from the road, and unseen through the overgrown grass that surrounds it.  Hand-painted numbers in thick black paint on the heavy concrete walls designate each of the roughly fifty stalls originally intended for armaments, with the assistance of subtly zig-zagging lines in those same heavy but efficient brush strokes that carve the space up further. They hang on the wall like calligraphic text on a Chinese parchment, providing definition to the sprawling and vacant background.  The atmosphere created by these visual remnants combines with the highly charged acoustics of the space to add undeniable gravitas and austerity to these proceedings, such that every note hangs in the air as its own object, a tangible apparition to be thoroughly considered. These three improvisers use the setting to great effect, forced to further distill their sonic decision-making into territory in which every highly exposed gesture contains the gravity of a closing move in a well-matched game of chess. There was nowhere to hide during this recording session, every note staring back at its creators with fearless eyes. And the resulting musical tension is palpable, as the band tosses ideas up into the air between them, and sets them spinning off into the ether, each one on their own unique path.

Steve Adams has a new release on Bandcamp, Strange Pudding, a set of fourteen song-form pieces for electronics and a little bit of sax. Quirky, wide-ranging and captivating, available for free at steveadams.bandcamp.com/album/strange-pudding.

Photo: Myles Boisen


RIP Cecil Taylor

“A great tree has fallen.”

The art of Cecil Taylor had enormous impact on the four Rovas. We each have separate stories of first encounters with his capacious sound world, and of magic-laden sets, played by ground-breaking instrumentalists. His artistry was thorough, his vision personal and universal at once. His uncompromising dedication to craft, the urgency of his delivery, and his ever expanding long game are guidelines for a life in improvisatory music making. Our gratitude for Cecil Taylor’s immense contribution resonates as his community continues to breathe life into their music rituals, without end.

Some of Rova’s favorite Taylor records:
Looking (Berlin Version) Corona – FMP, 1991
Unit Structures – Blue Note, 1966
Silent Tongues – Arista, 1974
The Complete Candid Sessions 1960-61 – Mosaic, 1986
Looking Ahead – Contemporary, 1959
Jazz Advance – Transition, 1956
Conquistador – Blue Note, 1966
Winged Serpents Segment II - Blue Note, 1984


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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.

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