Exposé Online banner

Rova — Bingo
(Victo CD 056, 1997, CD)

by Mike King, Published 1999-04-01

Bingo Cover art

For 20 years now, California's Rova Sax Quartet has been unrelentingly pursuing the ambitious task of inventing new music from the most traditional instrumental family in jazz history – the woodwinds. Their case and craft have neither gone unnoticed nor achieved a widespread profile, but this new DC release presents a wealth of extraordinary music that deserves much greater recognition. Bingo is comprised largely of commissioned works from three of England's foremost composers: Lindsay Cooper, Barry Guy, and Fred Frith. You know who they are and the riches they're responsible for, so by now biographical background and artistic acclaim must rest as self-evident.The 68 minute journey (as guided by the four horns of the apocalypse) begins with Lindsay's "Face in a Crowd," which begins with a lone, impassioned soprano cry that slowly evolves to a series of brilliant cyclical phrases, unfolding a musical experience wholly and uniquely Lindsay Cooper. This climaxes with an extended multi-horn chord that must be heard to be believed. Her "Can of Worms" is no less magnificent, and both are worth the price of admission. This view is not to diminish the quality of the other compositions, for they, too, offer much for your attention and appreciation. Frith's "Water under the Bridge" (dedicated to Jimmy Giuffre) features a Balkanesque melody line with shadowed sub-sections, twisting in character to his writing style. The Rovas excel at playfully conveying his sensibility. There are two readings of Barry Guy's "Witch Gong Game," with the longer and most demanding stretched to 26 minutes. Now there's an enigmatic epic worthy of the most experienced new music listener! Throughout it all, Rova invests the music full of visceral passion and technical brilliance, often breathtakingly so. Never do they bog down into collective chaos or fly into grandstanding solos for its own sake. They're a faultlessly cohesive unit offering a genuinely new contribution to the ongoing, if now rarefied, lexicon of the saxophone quartet. Highly recommended.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 17, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Fred Frith, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Lindsay Cooper

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Tibbetts - A Man about a Horse – My current thinking on the subject of a new Steve Tibbetts album that sounds pretty much like the last four Steve Tibbetts albums is: “Bring it on!” I suppose it would be different if there was...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues