WNPR

Rova Shows Cutting-Edge Art in Concert for Jazz Shares

Jan 20, 2016

Rova brings its mantra-like name and genre-bending philosophy of leaving no edges uncut.

Like a perpetual motion machine, Rova, the iconoclastic saxophone quartet, keeps running full speed ahead in its endless quest to discover new music, to boldly go on uncharted paths of expression anywhere in the endless reaches of the sonic universe.

Generously and with no fear of ever encountering anything remotely like kryptonite, the tireless dynamo happily shares its super qualities -- including its compositions and improvisations that are able to leap tall genres in a single bound -- with scores of artists, even prolifically crossbreeding its original music with many varied art forms, including virtually anything from dance to visual arts to architecture.

Founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in October 1977, the now 38-year-old unit has expanded exponentially from its original geographical base into a worldwide, avant garde powerhouse while spreading its evangelical message of making all things new with its omnivorously open, all-embracing approach to creativity of all types.

On its almost cosmic-seeming mission, Rova has promulgated the word worldwide through its groundbreaking global tours, experimental projects, and wildly diverse recordings.

Celestial Septet.
Credit Matthew Campbell

Along Rova’s roving journey, it has collaborated with an array of premier new music artists, a Who’s Who of Cutting-edge, Cosmic Hipness, including such titans as Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Terry Riley, among other creative music heroes in the Praetorian Guard of the avant garde.

Rova brings its mantra-like name and genre-bending philosophy of leaving no edges uncut, no envelopes unpushed, to Western Massachusetts on Tuesday, January 26, at 7:30 pm at Eastworks, 116 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, Massachusetts.

The eclectic, inventive, fearless foursome -- ageless, seasoned samurai sexagenarian saxists ranging from 61 to 67 -- are: Larry Ochs, a legend in his own right, on tenor and sopranino; Bruce Ackley, soprano and tenor; Jon Raskin, baritone, alto, and sopranino; and Steve Adams, alto and sopranino. The concert is presented by Jazz Shares, a progressive non-profit, major regional supplier of new music. Tickets: $15.00, available at jazzshares.org and at the door.

Both Ochs and Ackley are founding members of Rova, whose music The Penguin Guide to Jazz has described as “a teeming mix of saxophone sounds…prodding at the boundaries of sound and space.”

Rova Saxophone Quartet in 2002, from left: Bruce Ackley, Larry Ochs, Jon Raskin, and Steve Adams.
Credit Heike Liss

Rova’s latest prodding of the infinite limits of sound and space is its just-released ROVA Channeling Coltrane: Electric Ascension (Rogue Art). Among other features, the package includes a 21st-century, collaborative, beefed-up, electronically seasoned ensemble re-imagining of Trane’s 20th century landmark recording, Ascension.

Even as it edges deeper into its late 30s, Rova looks forward to new spiritual quests and new artistic boundaries to cross.    

Tunisian Violin Wizard at RAW

Yasmine Azaiez, the phenomenal, young, Tunisian violinist who’s fiercely fluent in classical music, free jazz, Middle Eastern modes and gypsy jazzmania, raises the already heightened sense of spontaneous combustion at the invaluable series devoted to improvisation at Hartford’s Real Art Ways where she appears as a guest artist on Sunday, January 24, at 3:00 pm.

Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

A globetrotting, genre-crossing cosmopolitan, Yasmine joins fellow special guest, Adam Matlock, the noted accordionist, in RAW’s intimate, freewheeling series, Improvisations/Arcade, curated by two maestros of spontaneity, guitarist/bassist Joe Morris and cornetist Stephen Haynes.

Playing in varied configurations, participants present a real-time, close-up view of the creative process of improvisation. Curators and guest artists not only improvise new music, but engage in open dialog with audience members about the art of the impromptu.

Yasmine, a 27-year-old string wizard, is also an improvisational vocalist and an actor and composer who has appeared in and written music for a Tunisian film.

As a child prodigy, she began on violin at four and by 8 was studying at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School in London. At 17, she won second place at the Sevenoaks Young Musicians of the Year violin competition where she was hailed as an “immense talent” and a “unique presence full of charm.”

A year later, she moved to Boston to study contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory. Her inspirational teachers included Joe Morris, Hankus Netsky and vocalist Dominique Eade.

As a classical violinist, Yasmine has performed at premier concert halls around the world, including the Royal Albert Hall under the baton on Mistlav Rostropovich, and at The Merchant Taylor’s Hall in London with the renowned violinist Sarah Chang. She has performed with chamber groups and orchestras world-wide, including the Westminster Philharmonic, the Lebanese Symphony Orchestra, and the Symphony Orchestra of Tunisia.

As a versatile virtuoso she has performed with the Iraqi lute master, Naseer Shamma at the Cairo Opera House in Egypt; with Joe Morris at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, and at numerous international events including the Carthage Jazz Festival in her native Tunisia.

Writing on the Internet about her 2014 digital release, The ‘Jazz’ Album, Yasmine identified herself as a classical musician, a Middle Eastern improviser, and a free jazz improviser who has “gone through many trajectories as an artist.” Each note she plays on the album, she said, exhibits her love of the extended techniques she’s honed, the respect she has for musicians who have inspired her and by what she called her “unique (perhaps bizarre) style of playing.”

“As a person,” she confided, “I am dark, glamorous, curious and quirky. And that’s exactly how I intend my music to be. Enjoy my nonsense,” the serious, new music champion said tongue-in-cheek. Information: realartways.org and (860) 232-1006.

Wine, Jazz, and Song

Credit Aurimas Adomavicius / Creative Commons

Fluid jazz, fluent song stylings, and fine wine tastings flow from 6:00 to 9:00 pm on Saturday, January 23, at a festive fundraiser for CONCORA, a venerable, Connecticut classical choral ensemble, at Porter Memorial Hall, First Church of Christ Congregational in Farmington.

Presented by CONCORA’s Friends of Bach (FOB), An Evening of Wine, Jazz, and Song uncorks the spirited jazz of the Sir William Trio, popular songbook stylings featuring CONCORA vocalists thinking outside the Bachs, along with FOB-prepared gourmet hors d’oeuvres, a silent wine auction and wine tastings presented by sommelier Raymond Petke. Tickets: $60.00. Information: www.concora.org.

Please submit press releases on events at least two weeks before the publication date to omac28@gmail.com. Comments are welcome.