Rova Saxophone Quartet
The Rova Saxophone Quartet is a San Francisco-based saxophone quartet formed in October 1977 at the same time as their "less adventurous" but better known colleagues the World Saxophone Quartet. The name "Rova" is an acronym formed from the last initials of the founding members: Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs, Andrew Voigt and Bruce Ackley. Andrew Voigt left and was replaced by Steve Adams, but the group did not change the acronym. Metalanguage Records was founded in 1978 by Henry Kaiser and Ochs. It showcased Rova as well as many independent artists and produced the Rova Arts Festival in 1980.
The ensemble performed its first concert at the 3rd Annual Free Music Festival at Mills College in Oakland, California, in February 1978. Inspired by a broad spectrum of musical influences - from Charles Ives, Edgard Varese, Olivier Messiaen and John Cage to John Coltrane, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy and Ornette Coleman - Rova began writing new material, touring, recording (its first album Cinema Rovaté was released on Ochs' Metalanguage label) and collaborating with such like-minded colleagues as guitarist Henry Kaiser and Italian percussionist Andrea Centazzo. Early in its history, Rova performed both at the Vancouver New Music Society (1978) and the Moers International Festival of New Jazz in Germany (1979).
Rova has become an important leader in the movement of genre-bending music that has its roots in post-bop free jazz, avant-rock, and 20th century new music as well as traditional and popular styles of Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States. While much of Rova's music is composed by its members, the group has also collaborated with and commissioned new works. Since its founding, Rova has released over two dozen recordings of original music.
In noting Rova's role in developing the all-saxophone ensemble as "a regular and conceptually wide-ranging unit," The Penguin Guide to Jazz calls its music "a teeming cosmos of saxophone sounds" created by "deliberately eschewing conventional notions about swing [and] prodding at the boundaries of sound and space...." Likewise Jazz: The Rough Guide notes, "Highly inventive, eclectic and willing to experiment, Rova [is] arguably the most exciting of the saxophone quartets to emerge in the format's late '70s boom." They have collaborated with many musicians and composers, including Terry Riley (Chanting the Light of Foresight), Fred Frith (Freedom in Fragments), Annie Gosfield, John Zorn and Alvin Curran.
- 1978: Cinema Rovaté (Metalanguage, Berkeley)
- 1979: Daredevils
- 1981: As Was '(Metalanguage, Berkeley; re-released on CD by Atavistic, Chicago)
- 1984: Favorite Street (Black Saint, Italy)
- 1987: Beat Kennel (Black Saint, Italy)
- 1990: Electric Rags II (New Albion, San Francisco; Alvin Curran & Rova)
- 1993: From The Bureau Of Both (Black Saint, Italy)
- 1995: The Works - Volume 1 (Black Saint, Italy)
- 1996: The Works - Volume 2 (Black Saint, Italy)
- 1996: Ptow!! (Victo, Canada)
- 1997: John Coltrane's Ascension *Alvin Curran & Rova Saxophone Quartet - Electric Rags II
- 1998: Bingo (Victo, Canada)
- 1999: The Works - Volume 3 (Black Saint, Italy)
- 1999: Freedom in Fragments (Winter & Winter) composed by Fred Frith
- 2003: Resistance" (Victo, Canada)
- 2004: An Alligator in Your Wallet ( _________, Japan; Rova plus Satoko Fujii and big band)
- 2005: Electric Ascension (Atavistic) as Rova::Orkestrova with Chris Brown, Nels Cline, Fred Frith, Ikue Mori, Donald Robinson, Otomo Yoshihide, Carla Kihlstedt and Jenny Scheinman
- 2006: Totally Spinning (Black Saint, Italy)
- 2006: The Mirror World (Metalanguage, Berkeley; Rova plus creative Orchestra)
- 2008: Juke Box Suite (Not Two, Poland)
- 2010: Planetary (Solyd, Moscow)
- 2011: The Celestial Septet (New World) with The Nels Cline Singers
- 2011: The Receiving Surfaces (Metalanguage; limited edition LP as a sax quintet with John Zorn)
- 2012: A Short History (Jazzwerkstatt, Berlin)
- 2016: Rova Channeling Coltrane Electric Ascension Live at 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival (BluRay + DVD + CD) RogueArt Rog-0065