By Josef Woodard | Published November 2018
On the release day for the venerable ROVA saxophone quartet’s In Transverse Time, the group went to church—an ornate Catholic edifice in Victoriaville, Quebec, during the avant-leaning FIMAV festival. It made sense, given ROVA’s resonant sonorities and, on Steve Adams’ beguiling The Dark Forest Suite, its being influenced by the Republic of Georgia’s religious choral tradition.
Remarkably, this vital San Francisco-based quartet has retained steady membership—Larry Ochs, Bruce Ackley, Jon Raskin and Adams, covering and blending the range of baritone to sopranino saxophones—and continues to generate fresh ideas at the ripe age of 40. Though fortified by improvisatory strengths—individually and as a group—core values of In Transverse Time are steered toward the experimental fringe by ROVA’s focuses on conceptual and structural explorations; structure matters here, even when intentionally equipped with a margin for spontaneous detours.
Opening with Ackley’s “Oxygen,” a melding of slow, long notes with kinetic, staccato parts, the album kicks into a heady semi-party mode on Raskin’s “The Time Being.” Time, and its subdivisions, becomes a prevailing motif, as on Raskin’s “A Leap Of Faith In Transverse Time,” with its slow progression of staggered long tones—almost reminiscent of Morton Feldman’s music—leading into a loosened sense of musical time.
To close, ROVA shines, blows, simmers and connects on Ochs’ 25-minute “Hidden In Ochre,” a grand finale and statement of continuity for its 40th anniversary.
In Transverse Time: Oxygen; The Dark Forest Suite (Introduction/Song 1/Song 2/Song 3/Song 4/Coda); A Leap Of Faith In Transverse Time; The Time Being; Hidden In Ochre. (56:48)
Personnel: Bruce Ackley, soprano saxophone; Steve Adams, alto, sopranino saxophone; Jon Raskin, baritone saxophone; Larry Ochs, tenor saxophone.