? rova:arts | On Rova's Radar
:: NOV - DEC 2015 ::

In This Dispatch:

European Tour - November 2015

Local Rova Shows

NYC Residence - January 2016

Favorite Street: Jon Raskin Recommends

New Larry Ochs CD - The Fictive Five

Center for New Music Show - Prismatic Percussion

Rova T-Shirts!

The band is gearing up for two weeks in Europe in the middle of November, with concerts in Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy. See our full schedule below. If by chance you or friends are near any of these towns during November, we hope you’ll join us! Playing nightly is the best way for us to get new works together, and to recreate older repertoire pieces—and we’ll be doing some of both on this trip. We’ll also be playing local shows, including a December concert of works by the late British composer-sax player, Lindsay Cooper, mounted by Fred Frith at Mills College in Oakland. 

Everything we’re working on this fall will be performed in New York City during our weeklong retrospective there in January. This 4-month stretch is densely packed with a wide variety of our musical projects, commissions and new and older Rova material. The book is probably fatter than it’s ever been, and is pushing our mental and physical limits, a welcome challenge. Don’t miss our December 16th concert in San Francisco that will be rich with surprises.

European Tour - November 2015

Rova will present concerts and workshops in 10 European cities in November, performing new works, reworked pieces from our repertory, and offering an exciting project in Antwerp, Rova Special Sextet, featuring Belgian percussionists. Several of our shows for this tour will feature our “Sound-in-Space” program: works particularly suited for very resonant halls, such as one that an old church might provide. For tour updates, or for inquiries, contact Kato Bookbird, an agency for jazz and improvised music based in Germany.

Nov 08 | Sound In Motion | Antwerp, Belgium
Project: Rova Special Sextet: Rova plus Belgian percussionists Jakob Warmenbol and Eric Heestermans

[For complete tour details, click here.]


Local Rova Shows

December 5, 8:00 PM

Rova + Mills Performing Group: Music by Lindsay Cooper

Multi-instrumentalist-composer, Lindsay Cooper, 1979

Celebrating the music of the late Lindsay Cooper—feminist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist—with a large ensemble directed by her former bandmates, Fred Frith and Zeena Parkins. The concert also features Rova performing Lindsay’s riveting “Face in the Crowd,” written for the quartet in the early 1990s.

Mills College Campus
Littlefield Concert Hall 
Richards Road
Oakland 94613


December 16, 8:00 PM

Rova Plays the Center for New Music

The quartet continues to unearth works from its repertoire to be performed in our New York retrospective in January. In December, Rova will join forces with 4 additional saxophonists (TBA) to play Tracers from the Figure 8 book for sax octet. Plus pieces by Wadada Leo Smith, John Carter, and Rova. Another one-of-a-kind Rova+ show.

Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street, near Market (Powell Street BART)
San Francisco


NYC Residence - January 2016

Rova is looking forward to playing 13 sets of music in New York from January 17 to 24. The shows begin with the ecstatic Electric Ascension on January 17 at Le Poisson Rouge in the West Village, continuing for the following week (January 19 – 24) at the Stone on the Lower East Side. Rova is honored to have been invited by John Zorn to present a week’s worth of our music, both past and present at his East Side venue; music presented not only as a quartet but also in several larger ensembles, chosen from the many special projects created over the past 38 years.

Sunday, January 17

Channeling Coltrane: Rova’s Reimagining of John Coltrane’s Ascension

Performed in 6 countries, with dozens of today’s most committed and visionary improvisers, John Coltrane’s masterwork, Ascension, will once again be reimagined by Rova & Co as Electric Ascension. Presented by the BRIC Winter Jazz Festival, this will be the New York premiere of one of Rova’s most widely acclaimed projects, and is a show not to be missed.


Le Poisson Rouge
155 Bleecker Street
New York

January 19 - 24


The Stone, John Zorn’s Lower East Side musical incubator / laboratory, where renowned musicians curate, collaborate, and explore fresh realms for improvisation, will be the site of a 38 year retrospective of the quartet’s work—a progress report spanning our 4 decade history, engaging some of New York’s most innovative and compelling voices. We couldn’t wait till year 40 to work up this ambitious project: NOW’S THE TIME!

The Stone
The corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street
New York City

Tuesday, January 19

8:00 PM

Rova—Zorn Quintet

Rova + John Zorn (saxes)
John Zorn and the Rovas have worked together since prior to the Quartet’s formation in 1977. We’ve continued to collaborate in many ways over Rova’s history, including our presentation of the Bay Area premiere of Zorn’s Cobra in 1988; the 2010 Rova-Zorn Quintet performance and subsequent limited edition LP recording, The Receiving Surfaces; and various New York gigs. Kindred spirits, Rova and Zorn always sound like they’ve been playing together forever.

10:00 PM

Rova Plays the Music of Berne, Carter, Curran, Smith, Zorn

During the late 1980s and ‘90s, with the support of Meet the Composers’ commissioning program, Rova expanded its programming to include compositions for improvising saxophone quartet written by many innovative composers. This expedition to use source material from outside the quartet broadened and deepened our repertoire, and overall vision. Rova will present pieces composed for the quartet by Wadada Leo Smith, Tim Berne, Alvin Curran, and the late, great John Carter. Plus we will play a Larry Ochs’ arrangement from John Zorn’s Masada song book.

Multi-instrumentalist-composer, John Carter

Wednesday, January 20

8:00 PM

ROVA plus Nels Cline + Trevor Dunn + Allison Miller

An outgrowth of playing double bills together and informally improvising with the Nels Cline Singers during 2009-10, our ongoing partnership became the Celestial Septet and spawned a book of unique compositions and a 2011 New World CD release. Rova will team up with Nels Cline, Trevor Dunn and Allison Miller to perform pieces from our Singers collaboration, penned by Cline, Adams, Ochs and Rova.

Drummer, Allison Miller; Bassist, Trevor Dunn, Guitarist, Nels Cline

10:00 PM

Rova Quartet NOW

During 2015 Rova members each created new compositions, intent on further refining our sound, and broadening the scope of our work. In New Original Works, Rova offers fresh information for sax quartet with pieces by Raskin, Ackley, Ochs, Adams.

Thursday, January 21

8:00 PM

European Windows 1 — Steve Lacy’s Saxophone Special

Rova + Eyal Maoz (guitar) Chuck Bettis (electronics)
Along with Anthony Braxton’s milestone saxophone quartet piece, Steve Lacy’s 1974 recording for saxophone quartet, electric guitar and electronics moved improvised music further from jazz, and onto its own turf. Unorthodox instrumental groupings that proliferated during the late ‘60s and ‘70s opened the field of improvisation, freeing the music it from its jazz roots. At the time, Rova members were quick to pick up on Braxton and Lacy moves, which inspired them to form Rova. This incendiary sextet will present an updated version of Lacy’s Saxophone Special and more.

The inscrutable, Mr. Lacy

10:00 PM

European Windows 2 — Rova Quartet plays Butcher, Cooper, Frith, and Guy

Four very different British composers have contributed daring and iconoclastic works to the Rova canon. From John Butcher’s sonic wonderland to Lindsay Cooper’s topical soundtrack to the struggle for a more just world; and, from Barry Guy’s sprawling Pandora’s box of complex structures to Fred Frith’s riveting dedication to Frank Zappa, the evening will take the audience through a diversity of sound, and a remarkable display of saxophonics. Pieces by four great British-born composer-improvisers, specially commissioned by Rova.

Friday, January 22

8:00 PM and 10:00 PM

SAX & DRUMS!! ROVA plus Tom Rainey and Michael a Sarin

Rova + Tom Rainey, Michael Sarin (drums)
The Special Sextet was originally conceived for the Leipzig Jazz festival in 1993, with Paul Lytton and Raimond Strid on drums. This is only the 3rd show in US, with the stateside premiere presented in San Francisco in 2005. The centerpiece of the evening is Larry Ochs’ driving “The Mirror World”, followed by Steve Adams’ arrangement of a lesser known Coltrane original, “Living Space”, and other Rova member pieces. Rainey and Sarin will smoke this set!

CD Cover for Larry Ochs’ The Mirror World

Saturday, January 23

8:00 PM and 10:00 PM

Figure 8 aka ROVA Saxophone Octet

Rova + Ellery Eskelin, Marty Ehrlich, Vinny Golia, Jon Irabagon (saxes)
Rova X Two: this saxophone octet smash-up was cooked up in 1993 for the JazzFestival Saalfelden. The program features all original works by Larry Ochs and Steve Adams, created with inspiration from Albert Ayler, Morton Feldman, Ray Charles and Pete Townsend. Blow city!

Jon Irabagon

Sunday, January 24

8:00 PM

Art of the Improviser: Rova Quartet plus Ava Mendoza + Ken Filiano, Mike Lockwood, Andrea Parkins

Rova + Ava Mendoza (guitar), Ken Filiano (bass, effects), Mike Lockwood (drums), Andrea Parkins (electronics)
For its entire 38 year existence, Rova has practiced and performed free improvisations, created a visual cueing system, and designed structured improvisations. Our Art of the Improviser series, in which we invite like-minded creative players into the process, was initiated in the Bay Area in the late 1980s, and over the years has featured some of the most daring risk takers in the business. Join us for this special set of spontaneous compositions.

Electronics improviser, Andrea Parkins

10:00 PM

Rova Quartet: The Works

Rova enters the vaults to unearth originals by the quartet—a 20th century songbook of compositions by Ackley, Raskin, Adams and Ochs. The inner workings and logic of these compositions, spanning the history of the band, illustrate the achievement of Rova’s sustained collective process, and demonstrate the breadth of the work.


Favorite Street: Jon Raskin Recommends

The Dying Grass
William T. Volman

This is volume 5 of Vollman’s “Seven Dream” cycle that looks at the European invasion of North America...

John Gardner

In 2017 Rova will collaborate with the site-specific Bay Area theatre company We Players, and movement-performance ensemble inkBoat using the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf as source material. In the reading group we formed this fall, Grendel was recommended...

PC has joined with virtuoso Van-Anh Vanessa Vo (dan tranh & dan bau), South Bay rapper DEM ONE and filmmaker Christopher PaperSon Woon for "Moving Train", a song and music video...


[For a complete list of Raskin picks, click here.]


New Larry Ochs CD - The Fictive Five

Larry Ochs’ new CD “The Fictive Five” is just out—RIGHT NOW—on Tzadik Records.

The CD features 4 kindred Brooklyn-based musicians, including Nate Wooley, who will appear with Rova at the Electric Ascension show in NY in January. With cover art by the versatile and acclaimed artist, Lyn Hejinian, the music is housed in a beautiful package. The all-originals set by Ochs, brought to life by this dedicated cast of fire-eaters, has resulted in a compelling and successful recording. You can see all the details on THE FICTIVE FIVE, including more detailed liner notes by Ochs than will appear in the CD, by going to the webpage about this CD at Ochs’ newly re-designed website.

Nate Wooley - trumpet
Pascal Niggenkemper - bass + prepared bass
Ken Filiano - bass + effects
Harris Eisenstadt - drums
Larry Ochs - tenor + sopranino saxophones

Similitude (for Wim Wenders)
A Marked Refraction
By Any Other Name (for William Kentridge)
Translucent (for Kelly Reichardt)


Center for New Music Show - Prismatic Percussion

Sunday, December 13, 8:00 PM

Prismatic Percussion ++ ! and duo B.

Curated by Jon Raskin

Two of the Bay Area’s most daring “percussion plus” duos team up for an evening of rhythmic space exploration among pitch and timbre nebulae shining in audible colors far beyond the visible spectrum:

duo B.    Jason Levis: percussion & Lisa Mezzacappa: bass

++!        Donald Robinson: percussion & Joe Lasqo: laptop | piano | objects

Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street, near Market (Powell Street BART)
San Francisco


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.

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