Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » ROVA: As Was

152

ROVA: As Was

By

Sign in to view read count
ROVA: As Was
Saxophone quartets are no longer the radical innovation they once were. Groups like The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet and The Brooklyn Saxophone Quartet among others have appropriated the mantle originally carved out by ensembles like ROVA and the World Saxophone Quartet and in the process made the instrumentation a far more commonplace occurrence. But back in 1981 when As Was was first released ROVA and the WSQ were essentially the only ensembles on the block willing throw their creative chips into such a seemingly lopsided coffer. Comprised of four Bay-Area based multi-reedists, ROVA was arguably the more resolutely avant-garde of the two aggregations. Emphasizing a balance between intricate composition and effervescent improvisation the four reedsmiths were all about testing the preconceived strictures of both their instruments and their imaginations.

This set of five finely crafted blowing vehicles begins with the blustery “Daredevils” and segues swiftly into the soprano centered “Quill” where Ackley beats a twisting path through a thicket of peripheral horn voicings from his partners. “Escape From Zero Village” rockets forward under the power of two twining altos and belligerent tenor with soprano wailing tonal streaks above. The interlocking lines become so dense at points that careful concentration on the part of the listener is all but demanded in order to sort out exactly who’s saying what and when.

“Under the Street Where You Live,” a piece generated collectively by the group in honor of Albert Ayler, is another dizzying lattice of intersecting lines. Ochs, on tenor, works out of a precisely improvised tangle of twin sopranos raised by Voight and Ackley while Raskin blurts a second bulbous progression of textural honks on baritone. Spiraling through abstracted itinerary the piece never seems to set down into clearly linear territory.

The closing “Paint Another Take of the Shootpop,” which must have taken up most of the original album’s second side carries the dual dedication to Olivier Messiaen and Otis Redding, two composers whom by Och’s estimation “have in common a concern for the emotional power of beauty.” Spliced into five audibly seamed sections the piece moves from a solo tenor introduction through a series of trios and solos both written and improvised. The overall effect is symphonic in sound and conception moving from staunchly serious to whimsically lyrical and back again. Each man weaves an agile and brightly cast spell both in isolation and in unison, scrawling a collective scribble of lines that under close scrutiny makes complete sense. ROVA’s shared hold on the saxophone quartet market may have loosened some with the influx of so many new investors, but this welcome reissue makes abundantly clear that their cardinal stature, which remains ironclad today, was in fact firmly in place from the beginning.

Atavistic/Unheard on the web: http://www.atavistic.com

Track Listing

Daredevils/ Quill/ Escape From Zero Village/ Under the Street Where You Live/ Paint Another Take of the Shootpop.

Personnel

ROVA
 

John Raskin- baritone, alto & soprano saxophones, clarinet; Larry Ochs- tenor, sopranino & alto saxophones; Andrew Voigt- alto, sopranino & soprano saxophones, flute; Bruce Ackley- soprano saxophone, flute. Recorded: April 1981, Berkeley, CA.

Album information

Title: As Was | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide


Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

In Situ
Alexa Torres
Just Found Joy
Ricky Alexander
Hittin' It
Mike Clement

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.