Ochs, Larry / Rova Special Sextet / OrkestRova
The Mirror World (for Stan Brakhage)
Larry Ochs tribute to filmmaker Stan Brakhage in a two disc set of live performances, first with a large 'Orkestrova', then with a Rova Special Sextet.
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Catalog ID: MLX2007
Squidco Product Code: 9704
Format: 2 CDs
Packaging: Cardstock Gatefold Sleeve
Recorded June 1-11 2005 by Myles Boisen and Jefferson Wilson at Kanbar Hall, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.
John Schott-electric guitar
Joan Jeanrenaud & Theresa Wong-cellos, effects
Lisle Ellis-bass, circuitry
Ben Goldberg-contra-alto, Bb clarinets
Toyoji Tomita & Jen Baker-trombones, didgeridoos
Darren Johnston & David Bithell-trumpets
Steve Adams-bass flute
Jon Raskin-baritone sax
Tim Perkis & Matt Wright-electronics
William Winant & Gino Robair-percussion
Bruce Ackley-Bb clarinet
Raskin, Adams, Robair-cues, conducting
Larry Ochs-traffic control
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1. The Marks 4:51
2. Palm 5:00
3. Fable 7:45
4. That Hunts 2:05
5. Full House 4:11
6. 14 Fingers 8:46
7. Itself Now Corresponding To Sand 3:58
1. Hit 1:35
2. Hung 2:31
3. Radar 3:46
4. Sonor 2:39
5. Pulsar 4:37
6. Screen 2:11
7. Reflector 4:33
8. Ruin 4:36
9. Omens 5:12
10. Wall 2:54
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Larry Ochs tribute to filmmaker Stan Brakhage in a two disc set of live performances, first with a large 'Orkestrova', then with a Rova Special Sextet.
"Back in the day, when a mainstream jazz musician would be confronted with free jazz in a Blindfold Test setting, he would often dismiss it as music that's more fun to play than to hear. Something similar can be occasionally said of composers who design big works for large ensembles of improvisers. The employment of cue functions with cards and hand signals, the empowerment of musicians to form sub-divisions of the ensemble and generate material on their own, and the creation of notational systems that are wide open to interpretation are proliferating compositional tools that may predominate in the 21st Century; but, their use is not in and of itself a guarantee that lucid, persuasive music will ensue. Regardless of the outcome, creating such works is universally hailed by those who compose them to be among the most invigorating musical activities they've ever undertaken.
Arguably, the success of such works depends on self-evident qualities, which can be discerned by the listener in real time without prior indoctrination by the composer or proxies. Such success is largely predicated on the ability to hear each musician as a discrete voice that engages in an organic development with others. Subsequently, the more successful composers and conductors in this field let timbres and phrases fully saturate in the ear. Particularly when the composer and the ensemble are part of the same established community, the musicians have at least a passing familiarity with, if not a working knowledge of their cohorts. Most probably, some of them have worked in largely, if not exclusively improvised settings with the composer, which can provide interpretative insights into the open aspects of the composition. Without these qualities and assets, compositions of this ilk can come off as mere conceits. Within just a few minutes of a first listening of Orkestrova's "realization 1: Hand," one of two disc-long renderings of Larry Ochs' homage to film pioneer Stan Brakhage, "The Mirror World," it is clear that all of the prerequisites for these compositional approaches to reach their full potential are in place. What is immediately obvious and perhaps determinative is the ability to hear each of the 15 or 17 musicians (Bruce Ackley, playing clarinet, and percussionist Moe! Staiano are brought on midway through the piece), regardless of how many musicians are playing at a given moment. Granted, credit is due to the concert engineering and post production; but, the clean definition of each instrument is also a measure of how well traffic controller Ochs, and conductors Steve Adams (who plays bass flute), baritone saxophonist Jon Raskin and percussionist Gino Robair midwifed the composition.
Ochs' materials and methods are laid out deliberately on "Hand," almost parsimoniously compared to the initial concussive volleys of "realization 2: Wall," performed by Rova, Robair and percussionist William Winant (who also performs on "Hand"). Ochs begins the orchestra piece with sparse episodes featuring just a few musicians ruminating on long tones and short tentative phrases; the ample patches of silence at the outset shrink as additional musicians enter. The palette at Ochs' disposal spans the didgeridoos played by trombonists Jen Baker and Toyoji Tomita and the electronics of Tim Perkis and Matt Wright, which Ochs and/or his conductors consistently tap, creating immediately appealing combinations of instruments. Having players like guitarist John Schott and cellists Joan Jeanrenaud and Theresa Wong, who can produce a wide band of colors, contributes significantly to the cogent build-up of intensity and mass that occurs over the course of the first half of the performance.
Structurally, "Hand" has aspects of the arch favored by composers like Bartók, the main difference being that this realization has seven parts instead of the customary five. Additionally, the keystone to the structure is off-center, occurring during the fifth movement, which opens with a suspenseful, almost menacing vamp-driven ensemble where the full-throated power of the saxophones is palpable. This passage gives way to an open section where electronics, electric guitar, trombones and percussion create bracing textures. From there, the piece slowly winds down; again, the clearly discernable interaction between musicians elevates this way above the generic endgame. The piece peters out to silence when Ackley slips to the foreground with a plaintive statement girded by the primal groans of the didgeridoos. "realization 2: Wall" is almost the mirror image of "Hand," structurally. It is fast and furious at the onset; for the first third of this 35-minute piece, Rova's brusque phrases and the frenzied exclamations by each of the saxophonists hurdle headlong into the blunt force of Robair and Winant's pummeled kits. If there is a keystone to this realization's structure, it is after the drummer's duet, during which Robair and Winant begin to ratchet down the intensity slightly by modulating the metal-based colors at their disposal. The reentry of the saxophones marks the low tide, intensity-wise; unison long tones unravel into a string of overlapping solo statements, with Raskin's snarling, sputtering and ultimately singing baritone spurring on the drummers. The other saxophonists reignite the culminating fires with a succession of staccato riffs that bracket scorching improvisations. Although all four saxophonists are persuasive, Adams deserves special mention for his exceptionally large alto sound in a grueling test of the instrument's range during the penultimate movement. "Wall" then ends with a bang."-Bill Shoemaker, Point of Departure
• Show Bio for Steve Adams
"Steve Adams has appeared on more than fifty recordings, and has six recordings as leader or co- leader on the 9 Winds and Clean Feed labels, the latest of them being Surface Tension by the Steve Adams Trio.
Steve has performed the premieres of numerous classical compositions, including Prisoner of Love by Robert Aldridge for soprano saxophone and piano, Thomas Oboe Lee's Saxxologie... A Sextet for saxophone sextet and Louie MCMLV for saxophone quartet, and Passing Time by Jon Nelson for tenor saxo¬phone and computer-generated tape. He performed Edmund Campion's Corail for saxophone and computer generated electronics with the Berkeley Symphony and at the Ojai Music Festival. Steve has performed Darius Milhaud's Scaramouche and Pauline Oliveros' Outline for Double Bass, Flute, and Percussion at Mills College. He was a member of the 25th Anniversary performance of Terry Riley's In C, which was released on New Albion.
Steve has written more than fifty compositions for saxophone quartet, as well as many others for varied instrumentations. His piece Cage (for John Cage) was performed at the 1993 Bang on a Can festival, and his piece The Gene Pool was commissioned by Meet the Composer and performed at their festival "The Works" in Minneapolis in 2002. His composition Owed t'Don was recorded by the violin/marimba duo Marimolin on their CD Phantasmata . In recent years, Steve has begun creating graphic scores, now numbering more than 40. Steve has also written for theater, having composed scores for seven productions at the California Shakespeare Festival. He received a California Arts Council Fellowship in 2000 and a Meet the Composer grant in 1993, and teaches at Mills College. Steve is a graduate of the School of Contemporary Music in Brookline, MA and studied composition with Alan Crossman, Christopher Yavelov and Thomas Oboe Lee, saxophone with David Birkin and Indian music with Peter Row and Steve Gorn. "-Rova:Arts (http://www.rova.org/about-us/steve-adams.html)
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• Show Bio for Jon Raskin
"Highlights of Rova founding member Jon Raskin's early career include his '70s participation in new music ensembles directed by John Adams (San Francisco Conservatory of Music) and Dr. Barney Childs (University of Redlands). Before Rova, Raskin served as music director of the Tumbleweed Dance Company (1974-77), was a founding member of the Blue Dolphin Alternative Music Space and participated in the creation of the Farm- an art project that included a city farm, a community garden, Ecology Center, Dance and Theater companies and organized the creation of a city park. Highlights as a member of Rova include composing a collaborative work for SF Taiko Dojo/Rova, working with Howard Martin on the installation work Occupancy, composing music for Mr. Bungle/ Rova, organizing the 30 year Anniversary Concert of John Coltrane's Ascension, performing the music of Miles Davis at the Fillmore with Yo Miles!, the Glass Head project with Inkboat and the ongoing Electric Ascension project.
Raskin has received numerous grants and commissions to work on a variety of creative projects: NEA composer grant for Poison Hotel, a theater production by Soon 3 (1988); Reader's Digest/Meet the Composer (1992 & 2000); Berkeley Symphony commission (1995) and Headland Center for the Arts Residency 2009.
Besides over 30 recordings with Rova, Raskin's recording experience include Anthony Braxton, Eight (+3) Tristano Compositions 1989 For Warne Marsh (1989) and The Bass & the Bird Pond with Tim Berne (1996), Wavelength Infinity- A Sun Ra Tribute, Between Spaces with Phillip Gelb, Dana Reason & Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley's In C 25th Anniversary, and solo work on the Art Ship Series. His current CDs include Let's go Juke Box Suite (Not Two) with the Rova Saxophone Quartet , JR Quartet (Rastascan) with Liz Allbee, George Cremaschi and Gino Robair, Music + One (Rastascan) an improvisation compendium for improvisers to play along with and Kaolithic Music, Jaw Harp Music recorded in a 587 Gallon Vase (Evander Music) He is working on several new recordings, one with a JR Quartet for release in 2009, a Rova project of graphic scores composed by Steve Adams and Jon Raskin, a compilation from the 2 + 2 series that Phillip Greenlief and Jon Raskin presented at the 21 Grand Performance Gallery in Oakland and a poetry and music project with Carla Harryman called Open Box.
Other groups are The Jon Raskin Quartet featuring Liz Albee on trumpet John Shiurba on bass and Gino Robair, a duo with Kanoko Nishi on Koto and a trio with Matthew Goodheart and Vladimir Tarasov."-Rova:Arts (http://www.rova.org/about-us/jon-raskin.html)
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• Show Bio for Bruce Ackley
"Bruce Ackley was born in Rochester, New York in 1948. Following in his father's footsteps, he began singing in choral groups at age 10. (His father performed in a vocal sextet as a young man in the 1930s.) Bruce sang throughout his school years and finally took up the saxophone in 1970. He formed his first improvising trio that year with friends from his art school days at Wayne State in Detroit, where he studied painting and drawing. In 1971 he relocated to the Bay Area. Largely self-taught, Bruce studied saxophone briefly with Lee Hester and Noel Jewkes, and clarinet with Beth Custer and Ben Goldberg. Throughout the 1970s he was involved with the emerging free improvisation scene in San Francisco, and formed Sound Clinic with Lewis Jordan and George Sams in 1975. He began playing with Larry Ochs in 1973 and Jon Raskin in 1975, which led to the formation of Rova in the fall of 1977.
Since that time Ackley has mainly devoted his musical life to his work with Rova, with some notable side projects. In 1977 he performed and recorded with the quartet Twins, featuring John Zorn on reeds, and Eugene Chadbourne and Henry Kaiser on guitars. During the 1980s he played regularly with trombone-electronics wizard, J.A. Deane and drummer Joseph Sabella. They formed Planet X in 1992, which performed extensively in the Bay Area and made a recording at that time. Bruce has also performed with the Italian bass virtuoso, Stefano Scodanibbio. In 1996 they performed together with koto-electronics player Miya Masaoko, and the brilliant cellist, Rohan de Seram, formerly of the Arditti String Quartet. That year Ackley formed a trio to perform his more jazz-oriented original compositions, Actual Size, with George Cremaschi on bass and Garth Powell on drums. This led to the recording The Hearing by the Bruce Ackley Trio, featuring Joey Baron on Drums and Greg Cohen on bass, and released on the John Zorn-curated Japanese label Avant. During the late 1990s Bruce formed Frankenstein, a jazz repertory band that played the music of many of the forward-looking artists of the early '60s, particularly Grachan Moncur III, Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy, and Jackie McLean-providing him an opportunity to dig into material that significantly impacted Ackley during formative years."-Rova:Arts (http://www.rova.org/about-us/bruce-ackley.html)
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• Show Bio for Larry Ochs
"Larry Ochs (b. May 3, 1949, New York City) is an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Ochs studied trumpet briefly but concentrated on tenor and sopranino saxophones. He worked as a record producer and founded his own label, Metalanguage Records, in 1978, in addition to operating the Twelve Stars studio in California. He co-founded the Rova Saxophone Quartet, and also worked in Glenn Spearman's Double Trio. A frequent recipient of commissions, he composed the music for the play Goya's L.A. by Leslie Scalapino in 1994 and for Letters Not About Love, which was named best documentary film at SXSW in 1998. He has also played in a new music trio called Room and the What We Live ensemble. He has recorded several albums as a leader. He formed the group Kihnoua in 2007 with vocalist Dohee Lee and Scott Amendola on drums and electronics, which released Unauthorized Caprices in 2010. He is married to the poet Lyn Hejinian."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Ochs_(musician))
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