Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

ROVA Sax Quartet Interprets Ascension in Philadelphia

John Coltrane’s Ascension-the 50-minute, large-ensemble, free-jazz tour de force that took the concept of Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz and pushed it further into the atmosphere of instantaneous composition and collective improvisation-will be interpreted with a new arrangement by the globally acclaimed ROVA Saxophone Quartet in an exclusive Philadelphia performance.

Supported by a cast of top-notch improvisers, including longtime fringe experimenter and current Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, free-jazz percussion artisan Andrew Cyrille, violinists Carla Kihlstedt (Tin Hat Trio, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) and Jenny Scheinman (Bill Frisell, Myra Melford), bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fantomas), accordionist Andrea Parkins and turntablist Marina Rosenfeld, ROVA: Orkestrova’s “Electric Ascension” will be unveiled on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. at the International House, as part of Ars Nova Workshop’s “Seraphic Light” series, celebrating Coltrane’s 80th birthday.

If there’s any ensemble suited to arrange such a mightily intimidating piece, ROVA is it: Since 1977, the all-saxophone quartet-formed by Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs, Andrew Voigt and Bruce Ackley-has consistently explored the vast range of compositional and improvisational possibility within the context of an all-sax format, utilizing 20th-century avant-garde concepts and merging them with the emotional liberation of jazz and blues. They’ve collaborated with such forward-thinking stalwarts as minimalists Terry Riley and Pauline Oliveros, prog-rock pioneers Fred Frith and Lindsay Cooper and out-jazz innovators Anthony Braxton and Jack DeJohnette. Raskin and Ochs (pictured) tackled Coltrane’s epic by transforming it into a modern instrumental setting, fusing acoustic with electric and employing different timbral and tonal elements than the original.

Tickets are $30 for general admission, $24 for seniors and International House members and $22.50 for students; they can be obtained by visiting or by calling (866) 468-7619.

Originally Published