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Celestial Septet (ROVA + Nels Cline Singers)
Ars Nova Workshop is thrilled to present the Celestial Septet: a massive ensemble featuring the Nels Cline Singers and the Rova Saxophone Quartet. After 4 concerts in 2008 and releasing Celestial Septet in 2010, the ensemble re-emerges for only 5 performances. Kicking off the tour in Philadelphia, this may be the Celestial Septet's first and final local concert.
For those outside the Philadelphia area, we are offering a live webcast of this rare concert. Sign up here: http://arsnova.webillishus.com/
The story of the Celestial Septet is that of two bands becoming one. On their own, the Nels Cline Singers and the Rova Saxophone Quartet have established themselves as the most forward-looking groups not only in their respective formats--a trio of guitar, bass, and drums, and a quartet of saxophones ranging from baritone to sopranino--but also in the area of music that has variously and inadequately been called "free," "avant-garde," "creative," and "improvised." The Septet is a vehicle for time and space travel through dense, narrow thickets and airy, wide expanses of boundary-blurred extrapolations of jazz, rock, late-20th-century European modernism and American minimalism, and 21st-century postmodern fusions. The trip is challenging, but the open-minded listener/traveler cannot help but come through the experience with new perspectives on sound and music. Perhaps most significantly, separately and conjoined, these units defy categorization by taking composition as seriously as they take improvisation, and by taking neither so seriously as to let one get in the way of the other.
For over a quarter of a century, the Rova Saxophone Quartet has been acclaimed and widely recognized for its vital role in extending the horizons of today’s genre-bending music. With its potent mix of compositional creativity and stellar musicianship, Rova explores the synthesis of composition and collective improvisation in ways that challenge, excite and inspire. Positioning itself in a dynamic musical nexus, Rova has become an important leader in the music movement that has its roots in post-bop, free jazz, avant-rock, and 20th century new music as well as drawing inspiration from traditional and popular styles of Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States. Rova:Arts, the non-profit umbrella organization of the Rova Saxophone Quartet has also commissioned more than forty pieces for saxophone quartet and extended ensembles from notable composers including Terry Riley, Alvin Curran, Henry Threadgill and Jack DeJohnette as well as pieces by members of the quartet.
The concept of duality has been a defining characteristic of guitarist Nels Cline since he first emerged in the late 1970s. On one hand, there’s the harmonically sophisticated, compositionally rich Nels Cline who contributed to jazz recordings by everyone from Tim Berne to Vinny Golia to Julius Hemphill. On the other, there’s the more extreme, visceral Nels Cline, who brought unbridled power and reckless abandon to the post-punk, alternative rock of Mike Watt, Thurston Moore, and The Geraldine Fibbers. Thirty years on, Cline continues to explore this dichotomy, whether it’s in his role as lead guitarist for famed rockers Wilco or with the Nels Cline Singers, his flagship group for the last ten years. With original bassist Devin Hoff, now replaced by Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, John Zorn, Trio-convulsant, Fantômas), the Singers have released four exceptional albums that emphasize their unique and courageous blend of musical genres and possibilities.
Ars Nova Workshop is a Philadelphia nonprofit jazz and experimental music presenting organization. ANW informs, inspires, and challenges listeners to elevate the role of jazz, improvisation, and experimental music in contemporary culture. ANW events provide a forum for discourse, emergent trends in contemporary music, and unique forms of cultural exchange, while nurturing a diverse community for innovative music.