152

ROVA: As Was

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
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: 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.

| Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Jim Crow's Tears" CD/LP/Track Review Jim Crow's Tears
by James Nadal
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "Dancing Our Way To Death" CD/LP/Track Review Dancing Our Way To Death
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Alba" CD/LP/Track Review Alba
by John Kelman
Published: June 10, 2016
Read "Hibernation" CD/LP/Track Review Hibernation
by John Eyles
Published: March 14, 2016
Read "Return" CD/LP/Track Review Return
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Moons" CD/LP/Track Review Moons
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!