Rova Saxophone Quartet As Was

Not much can prepare you for Rova. They are a group of telekinetic reed players that excel at collective improvisation balanced by genius-level writing. This album was originally released in 1981 and is probably one of the best known recordings Atavistic's Unheard Music Series has yet reissued. It's just titanic in its challenge. Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs, Andrew Voigt and Bruce Ackley offer up a number of musical and artistic signposts to consider: Oliver Messaien, Albert Ayler, Otis Redding. To that add Cecil Taylor, Steve Lacy and Roscoe Mitchell, who are cited by liner note writer Michael Palmer. Palmer describes things well by stating this is music that joins "the free and the fixed, the pure ferocity transmuting into virtual silence, the voices in contention and in agreement." This is not the hard, gut-bucket swing of the World Saxophone Quartet. Like Cecil Taylor, Rova draws from European classical ideas and jazz traditions. Their improvised strategies are so complex, yet seemingly of one mind, so that it is difficult to tell them apart from the written passages. It isn't easy listening, but it should be obvious to anyone with an ear for adventure that As Was is very special indeed. (Atavistic)