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ROVA + Battle Trance
ROVA + Battle Trance
October 29 @ 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm
8:00pm – ROVA
Bruce Ackley – soprano saxophone
Steve Adams – alto saxophone
Larry Ochs – tenor saxophone
Jon Raskin – baritone saxophone
The Rova Saxophone Quartet has consistently explored the fertile territory at the edges of composition and improvisation. Since their formation in 1978, the group has been a generator of stimulating new compositions from its members and a workshop for collaboration with many visionary composers of the 20th and 21st century including Anthony Braxton, Alvin Curran, John Zorn, Steve Lacy, Terry Riley, Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith, Fred Frith, Nels Cline, Henry Kaiser, and Carla Kihlstedt, among others.
9:15pm – Battle Trance
Travis Laplante – tenor saxophone
Mathew Nelson – tenor saxophone
Jeremy Viner – tenor saxophone
Patrick Breiner – tenor saxophone
On August 26, 2022, “the unusual quartet Battle Trance, comprised of four wildly talented tenor saxophonists” (NPR), released Green of Winter, the followup to 2016’s Blade of Love, one of the “20 Best Avant Albums of the year” (Rolling Stone), a record featuring “three adventurously dense movements … that maintain a focused sense of restraint and melody throughout” (Pitchfork).
Think of the human voice in music. The most primal of instruments, it can melt you or move you to tears on the spot. Then it’s the saxophone, one-step removed from the human voice, and the next most powerful messenger in music. Johnny Hodges, Albert Ayler, Steve Lacy, Pharoah Sanders, Oliver Lake, King Curtis, Tim Berne, John Butcher – to name only a few of the many singular voices on the instrument who, with one short phrase or even one sound, can take your breath away, or excite and inspire you to great heights.
Multiply that power, that capability, times 4, and you have a saxophone quartet. Rova Sax Quartet: a group that can move you the way an Eastern European choir of voices can move you, but also a group with force, a force that can feel as if it’s tearing the walls of the listening space down, or that can simulate the complex sound of a machine, or one of nature’s wild phenomena, or conversely, the almost-silent overlapping sound patterns heard with eyes closed in a field in the wilderness.
Rova Sax Quartet’s musical goal has always been, since 1978, to instigate, to challenge, and to inspire. The group explores the synthesis of composition and collective improvisation, creating exciting, genre-bending music. Rova:Arts, formed in 1986, acts as the umbrella organization for the musicians, facilitating the goals and productions and tours, the collaborations and special projects.
Battle Trance is a genre-defying ensemble of four tenor saxophonists: Travis Laplante, Patrick Breiner, Matthew Nelson, and Jeremy Viner. They perform the compositions of Travis Laplante.
The saxophonists in Battle Trance push their instruments to the limit. They utilize the full sonic palette of the saxophone, shedding new light on it as an ensemble instrument. They circular breathe to build continuous and hypnotic waves of sound, layer multiphonics to create intricate textures, and use blistering fast lines that seem to liquefy into each other. Unorthodox articulations and unusual fingerings are also a part of the vast sonic vocabulary that the members of Battle Trance are demanded to master. This being said, Battle Trance is also an ensemble that knows that a simple melody has the ability to shatter the heart.
In Battle Trance, all of the players are asked to surrender their personal expectations, agendas, and desires in service of the Whole Sound. It is then that the individuals can enter into the true structure of the whole ensemble. Paradoxically, it is the selfless structure that allows the capacity of the ensemble members to increase, in service to a sound that is far greater than the sum of its parts. By surrendering their egos to the best of their abilities, there is a heightening of the ensemble’s collective force, control, feeling of space, sensitivity, freedom of movement, sonic spectrum, breath, and ability to penetrate the heart. Once the separation between the individual players of the ensemble disappears, the ensemble itself is allowed to dissolve into the audience and the performance space, which opens a portal of resonance.