Andrea Centazzo / Rova Saxophone Quartet

The Bay

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It can be difficult to find early recordings of the Rova Saxophone Quartet, so this collaboration between Andrea Centazzo and the members of the quartet is important, at the very least, for a glimpse at how exciting this group could be at a seminal stage in its career. Still performing with unmitigated creativity at the time The Bay was reissued in 2006 as part of the Ictus Records' 30th Anniversary Collection, Rova has distinguished itself as one of the longest-running jazz influenced groups ever, and one of the most fascinating saxophone quartets, continuing to aggressively and uniquely explore the nooks and crannies of free jazz in ways that are sometimes accessible to those otherwise intimidated by the genre. The collaboration with Centazzo works well, as the percussionist wrote all the pieces, adding a slightly different, though no less radical perspective to the usual sound of the quartet. Though Centazzo often wisely stays out of the way as a percussionist, focusing on color and tonal palettes, his writing makes a substantive contribution, a challenge to the group to follow his written cues. The gently blown long tones of the highly esoteric "Trobarcius" (by far the lengthiest piece on the album) erupt moderately as the percussionist spars, almost statically, with the soprano sax as little sounds hold sway. "O Ce Biel Cisciel da Udin" displays the influence of Italian folk song, with a circus-like march that quickly evolves into a wildly free improvisation with the melody emerging triumphantly at the end. On "The Bay," Larry Ochs masterfully honks his way above some tricky rhythms, leading to a saxophone summit, while on "Carmel Duet," he lets loose in more conventionally radical ways, as Centazzo lends support, after which the sax gently lands. The percussionist comes out fighting on the remarkable "Ready N. 2," with its just right combination of interlocking horns and its snippet of "A Love Supreme," while the somewhat meandering "Ready" follows. The final two tracks did not appear on the earlier CD and LP releases: the intensely swirling "Ready N. 1" and the insane, if short, "Ready N. 3."

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