The Celestial Septet | Live Webcast

On Tuesday, February 22, Ars Nova Workshop presents the Celestial Septet, an extraordinary union of the Nels Cline Singers and the ROVA Saxophone Quartet. Hitting the road for only 5 concerts, this first date of the tour marks the septet’s Philadelphia debut. Given the significance of this epic collaboration, ANW and local webcast production team web.illish.us will be offering a free live webcast of the concert to audiences outside Philadelphia. Please follow this link to register for the webcast.

Local audiences can purchase tickets to the event at International House here. Stay tuned for an interview with ROVA coming shortly. Meanwhile, check out a brief history of the septet below. 

Whether providing ripping solos for indie rock heroes Wilco or improvising with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Nels Cline ceaselessly lives up to his reputation as “the world’s most dangerous guitarist” (Jazz Times). The Nels Cline Singers, with drummer Scott Amendola and newly appointed bassist and frequent John Zorn collaborator Trevor Dunn, is Cline’s avant-jazz power trio. Their fourth record, 2010’s Initiate, was praised for its “spacious and highly textured, simultaneously beautiful and discordant instrumentals” (NPR) and deservingly made the top 25 on the Village Voice Jazz Critic’s Poll.

“Visionary all-saxophone ensemble” (New York Times) the ROVA Saxophone Quartet has been at the forefront of creative music for over 25 years, earning numerous commissions and awards, and working with artists such as John Zorn, Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Currin, Terry Riley, and Henry Threadgill. Featuring four furious saxophonists – Bruce Ackley, Steve Adams, Larry Ochs, and Jon Raskin – ROVA has been praised by audiences and critics around the globe for their unrivaled and profound contribution to the trajectory of experimental music. Uniquely reflecting the quartet’s deep understanding and appreciation of jazz and avant-garde musics, from The Art Ensemble of Chicago to Iannis Xenakis, the ROVA experience is one of celebration and innovation.

The seeds for the 2008 creation of the Celestial Septet were planted when, in 2003, Nels Cline joined ROVA Orkestrova for a series of performances of John Coltrane’s legendary free-jazz record Ascension. After only 4 concerts the Celestial Septet disappeared, and then reemerged in 2010 with the release of a stunning self-titled record. “Free from stylistic restraints,” Point of Departure’s Troy Collins wrote of the New World Records release, “they fuse elements of primal free jazz, visceral rock conventions, aleatoric meditations and austere classicism into a series of unorthodox compositions that balance formal structure with unfettered improvisation.”