ROVA — Orkestrova – Electric Ascension (review)

ROVA — Orkestrova – Electric Ascension album cover Album · 2005 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Rova's take on John Coltrane's Ascension, the second go around for Rova, The first time they did it straight in 1996, and fairly faithful to the original, This time they turn it upside down and inside out in a live setting, tripling the number of collaborators and this time adding electricity, the Musicians include, Rhythm & Noise: Chris Brown: electronics; Nels Cline: electric guitar; Fred Frith: electric bass; Ikue Mori: drum machines, sampler; Donald Robinson: drums; Otomo Yoshihide: turntables, electronics. Strings: Carla Kihlstedt: violin and effects; Jenny Scheinman: violin. Rova::saxophones: Bruce Ackley: soprano saxophone; Steve Adams: alto saxophone; Larry Ochs: tenor saxophone; Jon Raskin: baritone saxophone.

There is a lot going on here, the Ascension theme is stated and it does sort of fall in line with the original, but to be honest, I find this more interesting than the Coltrane original, The strings and electronic touches seem natural for the music, the bass is also much more present on this, a product of 21st century technology as well, the instruments all ring clear and can be picked pick out with out much trouble. One interesting thing is guitarist Nels Cline, his freakout guitar adds a lot to the performance, Amazing how he seems right at home, I understand he did a duet album from 1999 covering Coltrane's Interstellar Space, I need to hear that I think, I hear a lot of structure and melody within Electric Ascension, which is a good thing, the electronics and samples are also all over the map, big Stockhausen vibe throughout, unlike Coltrane's Ascension, there is some breathing room employed, a quiet section with the samples going, then Fred Firth's Bass comes in to accent the mood, I believe at this time dual Violins enter into the music, I find the whole thing very interesting, It's free jazz for sure, and demands a very open mind to get anything out of this, for my way of thinking, I believe this has more in common with Stockhausen or Third Stream Music than Coltrane, if you have heard some of George Russell's early 70's albums, with Terje Rypdal, that would be a good reference point I think.

If you like Ascension or like free jazz you should enjoy this reworking, if you don't like free jazz or the avant garde, go elsewhere.
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