:: ROVA NEWS: SEPT - OCT 2014 ::
Vessels for Improvisation: Ochs and Ackley onboard with Shinichi and Dana of inkBoat  Photo by Jamie Lyons, © We Players
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In This Newsletter:

Vessels for Improvisation: Rova + inkBoat on Water!

Other Upcoming Rova Shows

Rova Member Shows

+1 - Guest Contributor: Nate Wooley

Favorite Street - Jon Raskin

Join the Rova:Arts Community

Rova and friends delivered two worthy tributes to Steve Lacy this summer. The San Francisco event in June, Favorite Street was a riveting triple bill: along with the quartets set was an awe-inspiring duo with Michael Coleman on piano, and Ben Goldberg, clarinet. Their readings of Lacys practitionersseries demonstrated a keen understanding of Lacys language and its connection to that of Theloniuos Monk. The quartet performance by Darren Johnston, trumpet; Aram Shelton, alto; Kjell Nordeson, drums; and Doug Stewart, bass was an exploration of Lacy tunes from many periods of his careerincluding a Johnston transcription of a Paris solo, "Wasted". Rova revisited our 1983 re-workings of 6 Lacy compositions, plus an animated new arrangement of "Cliches" by Steve Adams.

Lacys Saxophone Special, performed in July, at the happening Duende Restaurant & Bodega, was a resoundingly satisfying blowfest, including Rova + guests, Kyle Bruckmann (on analog electronics), and long-time Rova collaborator, Henry Kaiser on guitar. With a short run through of the material in the afternoon, the sextet presented Lacys spikey Saxophone Special tunes with the intensity and spontaneity they were designed for. Audience and players at both events were stoked, thrilled to hear Lacys innovative and iconoclastic compositions again.

Rova, Henry Kaiser, and Kyle Bruckmann at Duende, Oakland, June 2014 (photos, Derk Richardson) 

In September, Bruce Ackley will present a third installment to this season of tributes to the great soprano playerboth at Duende and at Bird & Beckett Bookstore in SF. See details below.

Rovas active this fall, performing at a memorial for the late, great saxophonist/composer/band leader, Fred Ho; participating in International Music Day at SF Music Conservatory; collaborating with the dance company inkBoat on a boat on the San Francisco Bay; and, ongoing, Larry and Jon will be curating concerts at the Center for New Music in San Francisco. Details on all events are below, and will be updated regularly on our website, and Rova:Arts's Facebook page. (Be sure to likeus!)

We Players and the National Park Service present:

Vessels for Improvisation: Rova + inkBoat

Saturday, October 4, 6:00 - 8:00 PM

Live music and dance improvisation aboard the historic ferryboat Eureka at Hyde Street Pier

Featuring dancers Dana Iova-Koga, Shinichi Iova-Koga and Dohee Lee

inkBoat dancers for October 4th event, left to right: Dohee Lee, Shinichi Iova-Koga, Dana Iova-Koga

Join Rova and inkBoat for a unique dance-music concert experience on the Eureka ferryboat. Our 2013 Eureka event (also presented by the extraordinary theatre company, We Players, along with the National Park Service), featuring Shinichi, was truly magical. With a trio of dancers this years event promises to be even more enchanting. The audience will board the historic ferryboat, and is free to roam the decks to take in the setting sun, glorious waterfront, while viewing Rova/inkBoats collaboration. The setting enhances this experience of this unique performance event.

You can purchase tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/vessels-for-improvisation-2014-tickets-12360317041.

Gates open at 5:30pm Hyde Street Pier Entrance. Performance to be followed by light reception and Q&A!


Other Upcoming Rova Shows


Sunday, September 7, 2:00 - 4:30 PM

Revolutionary / composer / saxophonist, Fred Ho

Oakland Asian Cultural Center
9th Street #290
Oakland 94607

The memorial will feature performance by many of the forward-thinking artists touched by Fred Hos significant cultural contribution. Rova will perform Hos 1992 composition, Beyond Columbus and Capitalism, a work commissioned by Rova through The Meet the Composer / Readers Digest Commissioning Program.

Other performers include: Ben Barson, Royal Hartigan, Mark Izu, Jon Jang, Masaru Koga, Genny Lim, Hafez Modirzadeh, John Carlos Perea, Akira Tana, Marty Wehner, Francis Wong, Brenda Wong Aoki, with speaker/emcees: Diane Fujino and Matef Harmachis


San Francisco Music Day

Sunday, September 21, 12:00 - 6:00 PM
Rova performing from 12 Noon to 1 PM

San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music (SFFCM) presents SFMusic Day 2014 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The event will highlight the vibrant and overlapping communities of local artists working in Early Music, Chamber Music, New Music, Jazz, and Creative Music. Rova will perform in the Osher Salon at 12 noon.

Enjoy live music in a setting full of energy and freedom, à la San Francisco. Expect surprises, with intersections of the familiar and the innovative from multiple artistic and cultural traditions.

This year, SFMusic Day features a Field Report curated by Adam Fong, executive director of the Center for New Music, one of San Franciscos newest arts nonprofits, and one that puts artists and their creativity first and foremost. For Adam, "San Francisco music is a pulsating scene full of creative ambition. It manifests on stages large and small, and in particular at the Center for New Music, a few times a week." The report offers a tasting menu of the new music scenes latest creations.

Rova will perform its own set as well as a special collaborative installation by composer Chris Kallmyer, together with Mobius Trio.

San Francisco Conservatory of Music
50 Oak Street
San Francisco


Jon Raskin's Creative Decay

Sunday, September 21, 5:00 PM

Kanoko Nishi and Anthony Porter will performing the world premiere of Jon Raskin's piano composition Creative Decay. It is a meditation on decrescendo and what can happen after an attack.
Kanoko Nishi is a performer currently based in San Francisco/Bay Area, California. She studied at Mills College from 2002 to 2006). She has studied with, and was inspired primarily by improvisers Fred Frith, Joëlle Léandre, and Kazue Sawai. Although her primary training is in classical piano performance, Kanoko Nishi’s most recent interest has been in improvisational music making, both in a solo context and in collaborations with other artists. She has been exploring on the piano, as well as on her second instrument, koto (13, or 17-string Japanese zither), various extended techniques, in addition to more traditional techniques, in order to widen the range of vocabularies on each instrument and to enable them to adapt to different musical genres.
Anthony Porter s a pianist and composer based in San Francisco, CA. He received his BA in Music and Education from UC Berkeley, and his MM in Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying with Dan Becker. His music has been performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, Outside Lands Music Festival, the Jewish Community Center, and ODC in San Francisco; and The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, CA.
SF Music Conservatory
50 Oak Street
San Francisco


Rova Plays Center for New Music

Friday, October 24, 8:00 PM

In June this year Rova played the "Garden of Memory" event in the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland. It is a fantastic event, and the quartet values the opportunity to have been part of that community of artists. For several hours we simply inhabited the structured improv space, with predetermined elements, some on-the-spot conducting, and hand cueing to direct the action. Center for New Music will be ideal for further exploration of that realm, and will provide a view into the Rova process of creation.

Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street, near Market Street
San Francisco


Rova Member Shows

Myles Boisen's Ornettology

Tuesday, September 9, 9:00 PM

Playing the music of Ornette Coleman, premiering new arrangements by Steve Adams and others

Steve Adams – alto sax
Phillip Greenlief – tenor sax
Chris Grady – trumpet
Myles Boisen – guitar
John Finkbeiner - guitar
Lisa Mezzacappa - bass
John Hanes – drums

Also appearing: Ze Bib! (Shanna Sordahl and Robert Lopez)

The Uptown Nightclub
1928 Telegraph Avenue


Taylor Ho Bynum + Berkeley Arts Improviser Orchestra

Tuesday, September 16, 8:00 PM

East coast trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum is coming to the Bay Area. In case you dont know his music, along with leading numerous amazing ensembles, he is the director of Anthony Braxton's Tri-Centric Foundation and is an active performer in Braxton's new sextet. Phillip Greenlief is organizing a large ensemble to play under Taylors directionperforming mostly improvised music, some conducted structures, and some graphically notated scores. This is a rare opportunity to hear this forward thinking trumpeter player, and in the company of the Bay Areas finest.

Berkeley Arts Festival
2133 University Avenue


Hanes/Adams Duo with special guest Shinichi Iova-Koga

Wednesday, September 17 at 8:00 pm

Steve Adams - laptop
John Hanes - laptop
Shinichi Iova-Koga - dance

If you saw Shinichis collaborations with Rova on the Eureka Ferryboat, or with Steve at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, you'll know this event is not to be missed.

Also appearing:Tim Perkis solo, premiering new works.

Berkeley Arts Festival
2133 University Avenue



Tribute to Steve Lacy, pt. 3

Thursday, September 18, 9:00 PM
Sunday, September 21, 4:30 PM

Soprano sax specialist, Steve Lacy

To complete a cycle of tributes to the late soprano sax specialist and innovator, Bruce Ackley will present a pair of two set concerts, one each in Oakland and San Francisco. The concerts will offer two aspects of Lacy’s work from distant periods of his career: Tips, a cycle of songs he wrote based on Georges Braque aphorisms, and a quartet set inspired by his 1966 ESP-Disk free jazz outing, The Forest and the Zoo. Ackley, along with Phillip Greenlief and Aurora Josephson performed Tips several times around 2007, and felt compelled to redo it. For the Forest and the Zoo set Ackley will premiere a new quartet, featuring Lisa Mezzacappa, Darren Johnston, and the remarkable poet, Clark Coolidge (who is also a drummer and the ideal percussionist for the program).

Thursday, September 18, 9:00 PM

Duende Restaurant & Bodega
3234 Grand Avenue

Sunday, September 21, 4:30 PM

Bird & Beckett Books and Records 
653 Chenery Street (Glen Park neighborhood)
San Francisco http://www.birdbeckett.com/


The Steve Adams/Scott Walton Duo in Southern California:

Steve Adams - woodwinds and electronics
Scott Walton - bass 

Sunday, September 21, 8:00 PM

The Piano Kitchen
430 Rose Avenue
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Also appearing: Free Pop (with Jim Connolly)

Monday, September 22, 8:00 PM

The Angel City Jazz Festival

The Blue Whale
123 Astronaut E. S. Onizuka St. Suite 301
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Subterranean parking, entry from 2nd Street


Also appearing: the Bobby Bradford Quartet and the Vinny Golia Ensemble


Myles Boisen's Ornettology playing the music of Ornette Coleman

Saturday, October 25, 8:00 PM

See personnel for band on the September 9th concert listing above.

Berkeley Arts Festival
2133 University Avenue


Gino Robair & Jon Raskin Live on ubuRadio

Sunday, October 26, 5:00 - 7:00 PM

The working name of this electronics duo is "The Fab Lab". We will be playing a variety of electronic instruments, including Bugboard devices, Blippoo boxes, Chimera synths, Korg, Moog and others.



+1 - Guest Contributor: Nate Wooley

Nate Wooley was born in 1974 in Clatskanie, Oregon, and began playing trumpet professionally with his father, a big band saxophonist, at the age of 13. Nate moved to New York in 2001, and has since become one of the most in-demand trumpet players in the burgeoning Brooklyn jazz, improv, noise, and new music scenes.

Wooley’s solo playing has often been cited as being a part of an international revolution in improvised trumpet. Along with Peter Evans and Greg Kelley, Wooley is considered one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the physical boundaries of the horn, as well as demolishing the way trumpet is perceived in a historical context still overshadowed by Louis Armstrong. A combination of vocalization, extreme extended technique, noise and drone aesthetics, amplification and feedback, and compositional rigor has led one reviewer to call his solo recordings "exquisitely hostile".

In the past three years, Wooley has been gathering international acclaim for his idiosyncratic trumpet language. Time Out New York has called him "an iconoclastic trumpeter", and Downbeat’s Jazz Musician of the Year, Dave Douglas has said, "Nate Wooley is one of the most interesting and unusual trumpet players living today, and that is without hyperbole".Nate is the curator of the Database of Recorded American Music (http://us8.campaign-archive1.com/www.dramonline.org) and the editor-in-chief of their online quarterly journal Sound American (http://us8.campaign-archive1.com/www.soundamerican.org) both of which are dedicated to broadening the definition of American music through their online presence and the physical distribution of music through Sound American Records. He also runs Pleasure of the Text which releases music by composers of experimental music at the beginnings of their careers in rough and ready mediums.

Trumpeter, Nate Wooley

This was an amazing piece of writing. Take my word for it. It was revelatory, profound, and the sentence structures alone would have changed the world. It was truly an essay of the first order; the kind that would make us all reconsider the direction of jazz and improvised music, not only in the 21st century, but expanding into the possible futures and misremembered pasts of music making itself. In it, I posited ideas that could only be comprehended by reconstructing and building a new semiotics to explain its advanced concepts. It was that goodseriously. After finishing and formatting, my computer literally creaked and strained under the weight of its ideas. Simple circuitry and digital doodaddery could not contain the power of human thought in this instance.

At this point, I had to make a humanitarian decision. Like Jodorowskys Dune, the world will never be ready for something so deeply ridiculous, so utterly shocking and mind-expanding. I simply couldnt be responsible for the massive global uprising my words about jazz would surely cause, so I did the right thing and hit delete. Youre welcome, world.

And so, the rest of the words, from below this paragraph and conclusive of the final period, will be about my musical education. I suggest you get a beer. Youre going to need it.

I spent my post-gig hours last night watching an interview between Met conductor, James Levine, and Charlie Rose. Levine was talking about his early education, and I, being at the general level of cultural fluency commensurate with my position as a trumpet player, spent the hour trying to wade in the wine-dark sea of musical personalities I should know. I had heard of George Szell, and gathered from the other presences in the historical footage peppered throughout the interview, that these were people with true musical gravity. I was impressed.

The program made me think of my own musical upbringing. Certainly not to compare myself to Levine, musically or otherwise, but the mind wanders, doesnt it? At least mine does. I certainly wont ever be on national public television and my life is woefully low on historical footage thus far, so I hope youll forgive me for taking the opportunity, so graciously offered me by ROVA, to ruin your day by making George Szells out of a handful of Oregon Coast amateur musicians who remain my first and, in some ways, my finest teachers.


I began playing professionally at age 13 with an organization known as the North Coast Big Band. My father has, at various phases, played the bari and tenor sax chairs in this band, finally ending up as the lead alto; a role he maintains to this day. I have no delusions that my prowess as an improvising trumpet player got me a spot in the big band and often say a little thank you prayer to whomever it was that decided it was a good idea to have 5 instead of 4 trumpet players. Im guessing it was Stan Kenton. Without him, Id probably be working at the mill.

The NCBB rehearsed weekly in different halls in Astoria, Oregon. My favorite was the Elks Lodge and Suomi Hall: a grand ballroom above the Finnish steam baths on the main drag. It was consistently dark in this room, requiring us to use standlights even in the middle of a summer day. The dark wood of the room, its looming great bar and the many ghosts of New Years Eve depravity provided me the feeling of subtle immorality that every hormonal 13 year-old mind craves. I was hooked.

There were a few people that consistently played, and provided me with my practical musical education. First, the leader: Terry Hahn. He was the lead trombonist, and this made his helmship of a band somehow preternatural to me. His leadership style was probably closest to that of the Henry Blake character in MASH. His primary concern, as far as I could tell at that age, was what color tie we should all wear. Sadly, he passed away in 2002 from cancer. I am still honored and proud that one of the last gigs he played was my wedding.

The trumpet section contained one of the two truly unique characters I have ever spent time with, Louie Spivacek. His legend was that he had played at one point with the Stan Kenton band, although Ive never found proof to support this. He was a great solo chair player in that grand style of the wide hand vibrato and Harry James sound. He was my idol. His favorite joke was to hand me the roll of clear tape as we prepared our parts, exhorting me to see if it smelled like scotch. It remains one of the worst jokes Ive ever heard, and it still makes me laugh. He disappeared one day, supposedly to Belize.

"Capn" Jack Chadsey is the second of the two truly unique characters I have spent time with. He played piano in the band until his recent retirement. He had some arthritis that caused his fingers to be limited in how far they could stretch. Since he played mostly locked hand solos, (the melody note in the pinkie of the right hand, the bass note in the same of the left and all the other fingers filling in the chord tones) it meant that eight of his fingers just fell where they could, regardless of the harmony of the song. To this day, he played some of the most beautiful, strange and wondrous voicings Ive ever heard. Everything you said reminded him of a girl, prompting this response (or something like it), "Your car broke down? Reminds me of a girlElizabeth Galatea was her namethe year was 1962 and I was quite a man."…and so forth. The last time I saw him he told me that maybe I should think about quitting what I was doing and become a professional musician so I could be miserable. I followed his advice.


I spent almost every weekend of my youth playing weddings, Elks lodges, and outdoor "festivals" with these maniacs. They may seem like just a cast of made up characters to the outsider, but these gentlemen provided me with the roots of my music today. I learned empathy and love for my fellow musicians and the great power of people taking time off from their lives to come hear you play music from Terry Hahn. I learned to distill out all the bullshit in an eight bar solo to "make the girls notice" (as well as lining your pockets with Ziploc bags at wedding buffets so you can take home some meatballs for tomorrowwhich I still do) from Louie Spivacek. And, from Capn Jack I learned the greatest lesson when he said this to me on a set break: "You know what? Its just music. Why do we have to make it such a big deal?"

These were my George Szells. I love them dearly, and will hold them in my heart and my mind for the rest of my life. They shaped me, for better or worse. And, regardless of where I am and who is in the audience, I think I will always think of myself as the "kid" in the 5th trumpet chair at the end of the row.and be proud. Honestly, thinking back on that interview, I think Levine got the short end of the stick.


Favorite Street - Jon Raskin

Let No One Judge You — Early Recordings from Iran, 1906-1933

Honest John’s Records

All I can say is "wow"! What a great compilation of music from that magic time in recording history when it was first documented. 

Ravishingly beautiful, achingly precious songs and instrumentals, ranging from two performances by the Royal Court Orchestra in 1906 — with futuristic, overlapping trumpets and exquisite clarinet improvisation — through to a hauntingly soulful Hafez setting by Moluk Zarrabi of Kashan, from 1933.

There are eight selections from more than three hundred recordings made in 1909 above the Gramophone Company offices in City Road, London EC1, by the travelling Persian Concert Party — with chimes, castanets and rattles lighting up its rueful, imploring, besotted love-songs. ‘I am crazy with envy of the dress asleep in your arms and the oils rubbed into your skin.’

The backbone of the collection is a set of powerful performances by women, in defiance of the social stigma attached to professional musicianship. A singer calling herself simply Helen turns in some boozy Hafez wisdom: ‘Keep your cards close to your chest. Kiss nothing except the lips of your beloved and the rim of a cup of wine. Let no one judge you.’

The great Jewish tar-player Morteza Ney-Davud is featured as soloist and accompanist, besides a series of staggering improvisations by Abd-ol-Hoseyn Shahnazi, and an anonymous, red-raw tar solo from the South Caucasus, captured in Tiflis in 1912.

The two CDs are sumptuously presented in a hard-back gatefold sleeve, with a 26-page booklet containing full notes and marvelous photos, on fine-art papers, stitched not stapled. The four 180g LPs are presented in two gatefold sleeves inside a heavy card slipcase, with a 12-inch-square, 20-page, saddle-stitched booklet on art paper. The music was painstakingly restored from 78s at Abbey Road studio in London.

Available here: Let No One Judge You - Early Recordings From Iran, 1906-1933 : Honest Jon's Records


Brooklyn Rider

A Walking Fire
My friend Andre turned me on to this group after hearing them perform the Bartók on this recording, saying it was the best he's ever heard. I agree, and love their approach to the material—they have the folk feeling of the melodies the music is drawn from.

Taking its title from a Rumi love poem, Brooklyn Rider‘s new album A Walking Fire captures the state-of-the-art New York string quartet at their most animated and eclectic, even by their standards. Violinist Colin Jacobsen, cellist Eric Jacobsen, violinist Johnny Gandelsman and violist Nicholas Cords arguably embrace interests beyond the classical repertoire more than any other quartet in recent memory, from Central Asian and Persian music to Romany and even Americana sounds. This one finds them diving into Eastern European music new and old via a suite by one of this era’s most cinematic composers, as well as a haunting early Modernist/late Romantic warhorse, along with a gripping Middle Eastern-flavored trio written by Colin Jacobsen.

Lucid Culture Review

Liam O'Flynn 

Liam O'Flynn  
Bruce Ackley turned me on to a cut for Irish Piper Liam O'Flynn playing with Catherine Ennis on Organ on a tune called "Easter Snow". Below are a few tunes to listen to (click for video):

Seamus Ennis Easter Snow Liam O'Flynn Catherine Ennis

Liam O'Flynn - Dark Slender Boy - Uilleann pipes

And, now a plug for a recent recording that I was involved in:


All At Once

This sax trio of Frank Gratkowski, Phillip Greenlief and Jon Raskin released All at Once on Relative Pitch Records, and includes compositions by all of its members. We think you will find it worth a listen. I know, it’s Jon Raskin in another all sax group, but the results are unique to this ensemble and show what can be done by imaginative musicians with good ideas.

Relative Pitch Records - releases - rpr1015
AMN Reviews: FPR (Gratkowski / Greenlief / Raskin) – All At Once



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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.

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