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Rova / Rova:Arts
115 Central Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94117

:: November - December 2018 ::

Rova + Bridge #8, Brest, France, October 11, 2018, photo by Alexandre Pierrepont

In This Dispatch:

Tour Report: Los Angeles and France, Fall 2018

Rova in the Studio

Ink for In Transverse Time

Upcoming Rova Member Shows

New Adams and Ochs CDs!

RIP: Marlene Aron

Tour Report: Los Angeles

Rova finally made it back down to Los Angeles, after a several year absence, to play the Angel City Jazz Festival at the end of September, and then headed off to Europe a week later to play 4 shows in France.

The Angel City fest, one of the most ambitious jazz festivals in the country, just completed its 10th season. Spearheaded by the visionary programmer and executive director, Rocco Somazzi, this year’s festival featured many Rova friends and fellow travelers, including Wadada Leo Smith, Lisa Mezzacappa, Satoko Fujii, The Tiger Trio, Ches Smith, and many other artists broadening the range and depth of contemporary music. This was a perfect environment for Rova to assemble a stellar LA-based Orkestrova to present our tribute to Butch Morris, No Favorites. Along with conductor Gino Robair, were joined by Mark Dresser, double bass; Maggie Parkins, cello; Eyvind Kang, viola; Lauren Elizabeth Baba, violin; Jeff Parker, electric guitar; Steuart Leibig, electric bass; and Tina Raymond, drums. Wow!! What a boundlessly creative group of co-conspirators! So ready in every way.

Rova headed down to LA from the Bay Area, and braced ourselves for a long day of driving and rehearsing complex music with musicians who had never seen or played the music before, and many of whom we met for the first time. Everything came off smoothly, with the guests jumping right into the music, allowing us to settle into a totally engaged and exciting rendering of No Favorites the next night. Gino was way on top of his game, making brilliant choices that helped create a brilliant LA performance. Each musician contributed something astounding to the brew: there were unforgettable moments of pure mind dancing at the speed of light—and everyone brought their unique voice into the mix. It was a total gas to work and hang with our SoCal friends, further deepening our connection to that imaginative and thriving new music community. Thanks Rocco and the Angel City organization for making it all happen! And deep bows of gratitude to the brilliant players we got to share the stage with!

Tour Report: France

Café in Tours, France

Following the LA gig, Rova headed to Europe for 4 dates in France, playing Brest for the first time, and making return visits to Nantes, Tours and Paris.

We first played Nantes in 1982, and after this October show, a former presenter came backstage with the concert listing from 36 years ago showing that we did a program of Steve Lacy’s music! So, it was wonderful to return. We were joined in a double bill, both there and in Tours, by The Bridge #8—a blend of American and French musicians brought together by Across the Bridges, a transatlantic network for creative music. This was the eighth ensemble they put together to tour France, hence the name. Bridge #8 included: ANTONIN-TRI HOANG - alto saxophone, clarinets; MARS WILLIAMS - saxophones, toys; TATSU AOKI - double bass, shamishen, videos; SAMUEL SILVANT – drums. They played forceful and spontaneous sets in both places, and they joined us on stage at the end of each night for improvised encores. What a pleasure to connect with them all, and to play some searching improvs with such fearless and creative souls.

The Bridge #8, photo by Alexandre Pierrepont

In Brest, Larry guested with a group of French musicians (along with American Mars Williams), playing a noon concert for university students. It was a really solid hour of great listening and playing, and the students were rapt. This kind of support of the music is so meaningful, and helps to engage listeners with improvisation as they develop a point of view about art and music.

Each of the four Rova concerts was fortifying. We played pieces we’d been concentrating on through the recording process, including from our last CD, In Transverse Time, and also the works we just finished recording. So, everything was ‘ready’, and it gave us an opportunity to dig into the improvisations more thoughtfully and vigorously, since the logistics of playing the pieces were not in the way.

A highlight of the trip was our concert in Paris. Long time friend, Hélène Aziza, operates a wonderful venue out of her house-slash-gallery-slash-concert space. 19 Paul Fort provides gallery space for exhibiting photographs, and other flat art, and ceramic sculpture, and the house has a wonderful room for chamber music concerts. On concert evenings, Hélène creates a kind of soire, with music, friends, food and drink. The vibe was perfect, and we had the opportunity to connect with old and new friends. Many thanks to Hélène for her work to create a vibrant scene in her home.

It’s our hope that we’ll be able to return to France again before too long. We only had an opportunity to dip our toes in this time.  


Rova in the Studio

In September we finished a new quartet recording project which we hope will be released by a major label in late 2019. Included are 3 new pieces by Steve, a piece from the late Glenn Spearman (arranged by Larry), and a new group work that is presenting lots of surprising possibilities in concert. The set is strong, and we look forward to making it available to you. Stay tuned.

In early 2019 we’ll work with Gino Robair, as producer and artistic director, to realize a dream project of Jon Raskin’s: a studio-based recording. Jon’s idea is to make something in the studio, with the horns and other recorded sounds/effects/instruments, which is not possible for us to do live. The five of us are dedicating several days in January to at least get the project well under way, and completing it when it’s clear what that means. Everyone has thrown ideas into the mix, so we’ll see how broadly we can stretch the Rova soundscape for an upcoming release. Another reason to watch this space!     


Ink for In Transverse Time

A somewhat blurry copy of the review of Rova’s latest CD in a recent Downbeat. We think the recording is a good progress report, and hope you’ll check it out. To order the CD click here.
And from Bill Shoemaker’s excellent online zine, Point of Departure:
Over the four decades since they were founded, the indefatigable Bay Area wonders ROVA remain as restless as they are resourceful, producing music for an impressively wide range of settings both physical and instrumental. And whether or not you’ve seen live how purely communicative a group they are, you’ll hear in the elegant flow of the pieces on this latest disc how vital and energetic a musical voice they remain.
If one thing unifies the pieces on In Transverse Time, it’s an accentuated concern for aural space. The group’s general attention to balancing structure and spontaneity helps realize the subtle, elegant “Oxygen,” crisply captured at the Mills College Art Museum. Held tones contrast with deceptively simple scalar lines and little squalls of noise, or improvised asides. Throughout, there’s considerable attention to varied techniques, voicings, and tones, from tart pointillism to what could almost pass for a choir of flutes or metallophones. The piece sounds as if it’s continually turning itself inside, or inhaling and exhaling if you like, moving from elegy to fanfare, rhythm to space.
Steve Adams’ 6-part “The Dark Forest Suite” was inspired by Georgian choral music (an interest he locates all the way back to ROVA’s 1989 tour there). I typically enjoy ROVA pieces that have a lot of coloristic range and conceptual ambition, whether it’s “Paint Another Take of the Shootpop” or one of the long pieces from The Works volumes. Between this suite’s elegant, lyrical introduction and its dark, reflective coda are four folkish songs filled with pungent harmony. Tightly focused, each spotlights a different element of the group sound, from a bluesy Jon Raskin baritone solo to miniature dance routines.
“A Leap of Faith in Transverse Time” (the first of two Raskin pieces) is made of beautifully open-ended stuff, lyrically and conceptually almost like an extended version of the suite opener. It’s bittersweet in places, filled with space and the sense not to try simply filling it. “The Time Being” is one of their knotty, rhythmic pieces, elegant and full. The horns, perhaps especially the altos, shout joyfully here. And it’s hard not to feel that same spirit when ROVA gets into its swinging momentum.
The lengthy “Hidden in Ochre” is a study in fullness and reserve alike, written for a resonant gallery and really just a showcase for ROVA’s extraordinary facility for dynamics. Across its 25 minutes, ROVA takes in a lot of different territories. There are honking unisons, low-end riffs, skirling upper end tangles, and contrapuntal madness. But what really grabs you most are the open spaces for silence, soft chirrups, lush dynamism, and some sterling solos (Raskin and Ochs sound intense). It’s compelling and resonant on record, and must have been mind-blowing live at the gallery. Yet another top-notch album from an ensemble that goes from strength to strength.
–Jason Bivins


Upcoming Rova Member Shows

Thursday, November 8th 

Rodrigo Amado’s Motion Trio, plus special guest Larry Ochs 

Zé dos Bois Gallery

R. da Barroca 59, 1200-049
Lisboa, Portugal
Friday, November 9 

Motion Trio Orchestra  

Creative Sources Festival, Oculto da Ajuda

more info
Ochs – Frith – Johnston – Sebastien Jeser – Sam Duehsler
     11/11 – Music Unlimited 2018 Wels, Austria
     11/13 – Festival Jazzdor, Strasbourg
     11/14 – Jazzkeller Hofheim / Hofheim, Germany
     11/15 – Porgy and Bess, Vienna
     11/16 – Alte Gerberei, St. Johann-in-Tirol, Austria
     11/17 – Argo 16 in Marghera, (Venice)
     11/18 – Area Sismica, Forli, Italy

Festival Jazzdor appearance is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 
Sunday, November 11, 8:00 PM

Jon Raskin / Jon Bafus Duo

Gold Lion Arts

2733 Riverside Drive
Sacramento, CA

Plus: Phillip Greenlief & John Shiurba Duo
Phillip Greenlief & John Shiurba Duo / Jon Raskin-Jon Bafus Duo
Monday, November 12, 7:45 PM


Jon Raskin - saxophones
Cliff Childers - trombone
Jenn Schaaf - drums

Nebraska Monday's at the Luna Cafe

1414 16th Street
Sacramento, CA



Alan Ernst - keyboards
Tony Passarell - electric bass
Jim Frink - drum kit
Neb Mondays with Raskin / Childers / Schaaf and That Door
Saturday November 17, 8:00 PM

The Crushing Spiral Ensemble

Matt Small - bass and compositions
Steve Adams - saxophones
Sheldon Brown - saxophone and clarinet
Chris Grady - trumpet
Steve Blum - piano
Michael Pinkham - drums

ODC Theater

3153 17th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Monday, November 19, 9:30 PM

Tim Rowe’s “How to Play the Drums”

Tim Rowe brings his satirical instructional series to Studio Grand in Oakland with a live demonstration of the 26 Standard American Rudiments, the painfully boring building blocks of modern snare drumming. Assisting in this doomed enterprise will be percussionists Gino Robair and Sean Meehan, guitarists Myles Boisen and Karl Evangelista, and Steve Adams on electronics. 

Studio Grand

3234 Grand Ave
Oakland, CA 94610    
Wednesday, November 28, 7:30 PM

Lo Conocen (They Know Them)

Nava and Bruce in action at the Hemlock in September, photo anon.
Monday, December 3, 8:30 PM 

Robinson-Ochs Duo  


The Make Out Room

3225 22nd Street @ Mission
San Francisco 
more info
Saturday, December 15, 8:00 PM

New Zombies

Steve Adams – tenor sax
Aaron Bennett – tenor sax
Michael Zelner – alto sax
Dan Plonsey – baritone sax, compositions
John Shiurba – guitar
Karl Evangelista – guitar
Lynn Murdock – keyboards
Steve Lew – bass
Suki O’Kane – percussion
Jason Levis – percussion
John Hanes – drums
Also appearing: Jordan Glenn’s Beak

The Stork Club

2330 Telegraph Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 444-6174   
Saturday, January 5, 2019 


Winterfest, New York

New Adams and Ochs CDs!

pfMENTUM has released the new CD by the Steve Adams/Vinny Golia duo, The Philosophy of Air, featuring four new compositions by Steve. The music highlights their woodwind versatility—including what must be the first piece for sopranino and G soprano saxophones—along with the added dimension of Steve’s electronics. Available now at pfMENTUM.com.
  1. seconds of words (12:19)
  2. Romeo, do you like anchovies? (7:52)
  3. a mysterious abundance of quinces (27:16)
  4. neon meat dream of a Beefheart machine (10:23)
Steve Adams - sopranino, alto and tenor saxophones, bass flute, electronics
Vinny Golia - bass and contra-alto clarinets, baritone and G soprano saxophones

Ochs – saxophones
Cleaver – drums, percussion

Upon a 2014 invitation from Toulouse producer Alban Jacques - and with substantial support from Michel Dorbon of Rogue Art - Larry Ochs and Gerald Cleaver ventured, in 2016, down 50 feet below the surface of the earth into a huge wild cave with in southern France very special acoustics, unique air quality, and pitch-black darkness; an engagement with the cave itself; it's centuries of history, its ambience, it's incredible atmosphere. Thus a once-in-a-lifetime trio of improvised music between 2 musicians and a spirits-filled cave. more info

RIP: Marlene Aron

We got the shocking news of the passing of artist Marlene Aron toward the end of September. Marlene was a committed visual artist, and art historian, and was a fervent supporter of Rova, and all manner of independent music, over many years. We first met in the 1980s when she worked with Larry Kassin to present concerts at Noe Valley Ministry, and she remained on the board of S.F. Live Arts, Kassin’s organization that still presents concerts at St. Cyprian’s Church on Turk Street in San Francisco. Sadly, her last painting show opened just two days after her death.
A memorial is planned for Saturday, November 10 at 3:00, at St. Cyprian’s Church in San Francisco.
Here’s a short clip of Marlene in her studio, with her stunning work around the space:
Marlene, you will be missed!

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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.

Bandcamp! Bandcamp!

We’re now offering both new and impossible to find Rova recordings and other points of interest on our Bandcamp page. Be sure to check out recordings there, including, Saxophone Special, No Favorites, as well as, for example, the long out-of-print 1990 recording Long on Logic that we are making available as a CD download for the first time.

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