Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 25, 2012.

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12 innovative master-musicians in a one-time euphoric incarnation of John Coltrane's mighty Ascension, to be filmed for posterity

WITH ONE DAY TO GO, WE HAVE SURPASSED OUR KICKSTARTER GOAL. BUT THE COST OF THE SHOOT IN GUELPH IS GOING TO BE THOUSANDS MORE.  IF YOU'VE COME TO HELP OUT, PLEASE DON'T HESITATE.  YOUR PLEDGE WILL STILL BE DEEPLY APPRECIATED

John Coltrane's Ascension was called, “…the most powerful human sound ever recorded" in Down Beat Magazine in 1965, and "the most vexatious work in jazz history" by jazz critic Gary Giddins. These contradictory claims indicate just how controversial this music was at the time Coltrane recorded it in 1965. Ascension in fact still causes arguments; the ideas behind the music are still alive and making waves. All the more reason to rejoice in Electric Ascension, reincarnated for the 21st century in live performance by the large, fluctuating ensemble "Orkestrova". This Kickstarter campaign is to raise funds for a stand-alone concert video of a one-time-only performance of Electric Ascension at Guelph Jazz Festival in Canada on September 7, 2012. We hope to share the experience of this new Ascension with a world-wide audience of enthusiasts of forward-thinking jazz, improvised music, high-level artistry and John Coltrane.

In his late period music, John Coltrane sought nothing less than universal consciousness. Listening to the original Ascension after four decades, we encounter a formidable work, bristling with creativity and the power to inspire. In Electric Ascension, we find a later generation of musicians exploring the territory, still reaching for liberation and audience transformation. Rova Saxophone Quartet arrangers Jon Raskin and Larry Ochs have cast their Electric Ascension with improvisers weaned on Coltrane and the sonic experiments of the decades that followed his passing in 1967. Since 2003, performances of this work at 7 festivals in North America and Europe have been a revelation and met with standing ovations and critical acclaim. 

I have never heard anything like it, and will remember it for the rest of my life. I encourage everyone to one day dig these prophets. – from Jambase review of 2003 show in San Francisco. 

On September 7, 2012 Orkestrova will perform Electric Ascension at the Guelph Jazz Festival in Ontario. On the Main Stage of the River Run Centre, Rova Saxophone Quartet will be joined by monster players Nels Cline on electric guitar, Fred Frith on electric bass, Hamid Drake on drums, Jenny Scheinman and Carla Kihlstedt on violins, Ikue Mori and Chris Brown on electronics, and Rob Mazurek on cornet and electronics. Because of the cost of collecting all these master musicians in one place and because of inevitable scheduling conflicts, the Guelph Jazz Festival show will be only the second performance since 2007, so it is crucial to take advantage of this rare opportunity to hear and film the inevitable sonic rave-up by this cast of musical instigators.

Rova:Arts is partnering with John Rogers of Ideas In Motion who has been at work for four years on Cleaning the Mirror, a documentary about how Electric Ascension evolved from Coltrane's masterwork. The full-length Guelph concert-video would accompany and complete the documentary. In Roger's words…“I’ve seen Electric Ascension performed four times now, and each performance has been a transcendent musical experience and a powerful evocation of the spirit of John Coltrane. The documentary we are making explores the meaning of engaging with Coltrane’s composition for the musicians, the physics of conducted improvisation, some history, and snatches of the music. But from the beginning I saw the documentary as accompanying a complete concert. This music must be experienced in its entirety to appreciate its vitality, its emotion, and the terrains of the exploration undertaken by the ensemble.”

Our proposed concert video will be as invaluable as it is unparalleled. As enthusiasts know all too well, performances of innovative jazz works of this scale and ambition are extremely rare. Even more rare are opportunities to see them captured on multiple cameras with the same level of artistry one would expect in a network broadcast of a world-class symphony orchestra. Rogers and partner Jim Maier have shot Electric Ascension, documentary style, in Paris and Saalfelden, so we know what the challenges are. There is a tremendous amount transpiring on-stage, and the more you can see of it the more your understanding of the music grows, and the more profound your experience becomes. The musician interactions are varied, simultaneous, spread out all over the stage, and often defy capture on camera. With multiple cameras, we will get all the action in a precise and intimate way… A five-camera, high quality video of Electric Ascension, performed in its entirety, will be an unprecedented musical document.

So if you can’t be there in person on September 7, or even if you do plan to be there, join this global community of people and world-class musicians forming here, and help us make this exciting music accessible to many others. In addition to the DVD, there are plans for screenings of this concert-shoot and the feature documentary in cities around the USA, Canada and Europe. Help us to prove the late Glenn Spearman’s claim, made as he left the stage after performing Ascension with Rova: “the mof&!#king piece! It’s the “Handel’s Messiah” of jazz, man! We should be playing this every year at Christmas!!”

Frith, Ochs, Kihlstedt, Scheinman, Mori @ SFJAZZ Fest 2005
Frith, Ochs, Kihlstedt, Scheinman, Mori @ SFJAZZ Fest 2005

photos by: Matthew Campbell (SFJAZZ), Joaquim Mendes (Electric Ascension Lisbon, 2006),Michael Wilson (Scheinman), Georg Pillwein (Adams, Raskin, Ochs), Heike Liss (Frith), Peter Gannushkin (Cline, Kihlstedt), Antonio Baiano (Ackley).

FAQ

  • This came out on CD some time ago. I would be surprised if it were not still available, and it should certainly have both versions Coltrane recorded in the studio on that one recording date/day in 1965. Recently a DVD of long lost Coltrane performances on video was released. That includes his famous quartet performing Ascension, the only known live performance. But the quartet version is a different animal from the large ensemble version with five saxes, 2 trumpets, etc. What makes the piece so powerful is the SOUND of the large ensemble.

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    A big thank you and a listing on our backers page at www.rova.org. You'll also get e-mail updates after Kickstarter ends. (Every backer at $10 and above gets this reward.)

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    Music Download of the upcoming Electric Ascension concert to take place September 7, 2012 with Nels Cline, Fred Frith, Hamid Drake, Carla Kihlstedt, Jenny Scheinman, Ikue Mori, Rob Mazurek, Chris Brown and Rova Sax Quartet. (Because Rova:Arts is a non-profit organization in USA, $15 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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    Digital download of a photo diary of the Guelph Jazz Festival concert by photographer Marek Lazarski, from sound check to rehearsal to concert, PLUS music download of upcoming Electric Ascension concert to take place September 7, 2012. ($20 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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    Download of the edited concert DVD of Electric Ascension to take place September 7, 2012 with Nels Cline, Fred Frith, Hamid Drake, Ikue Mori, Carla Kihlstedt, Jenny Scheinman, Rob Mazurek, Chris Brown and Rova Sax Quartet. Every backer at $100 and above gets this reward. ($85 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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    choice of one interview: Complete 15-minute Nels Cline interview in Paris, 2007; OR: complete 10-minute Eyvind Kang interview prior to EA show in Paris, 2007; or: complete 10-minute Jason Hwang interview after the EA show in Saalfelden, Austria, 2009... PLUS: digital download of the edited concert DVD ($150 of your gift is tax-deductible)

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    1 pair of tickets to the Sept.7, 2012 concert of Electric Ascension at the River Run Centre in Guelph, Ontario. (Your gift is tax-deductible, less the value of the tickets.)

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    You will receive one of the 12 Maps (as we call the music parts for Electric Ascension), signed by the musician who used that Map in this concert, plus digital download of the edited concert DVD. ($200 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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    You will receive, from one Rova member, the saxophone reed he played at Electric Ascension concert in Guelph on September 7, signed by that Rova member, plus digital download of the edited concert DVD. ($200 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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    Signed hard-copy of concert DVD, after editing and production in 2013, plus a thank you in the video itself. ($450 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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    Dinner for two at DUENDE in Oakland, California, a creative collaboration between Chef Paul Canales and restaurateur Rocco Somazzi with two of the members of Rova! PLUS: Signed hard-copy of concert DVD, after editing and production in 2013, plus a thank you in the video itself. ($800 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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    2 More now available: the special Dinner for two at DUENDE in Oakland, California, a creative collaboration between Chef Paul Canales and restaurateur Rocco Somazzi with two of the members of Rova! PLUS: Signed hard-copy of concert DVD, after editing and production in 2013, plus a thank you in the video itself. ($800 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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    Signed hard-copy of concert DVD, after editing and production in 2013, plus a thank you in the video itself. PLUS: choice of one interview: complete 15-minute Nels Cline interview in Paris, 2007; Or: complete 10-minute Eyvind Kang interview prior to EA show in Paris, 2007; Or: complete 10-minute Jason Hwang interview after the EA show in Saalfelden, Austria, 2009. ($850 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER LEVEL: A credit in the concert video as "Associate Producer" ...Plus: choice of two of the interviews listed at $1000 level ...Plus: signed hard-copy of concert DVD. (Because Rova:Arts is a non-profit organization in USA, $2250 of your gift is tax-deductible.) PLUS: if you can get yourself to Guelph on Sept 7, we will welcome you to soundcheck, rehearsal, and backstage after the concert.

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    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER LEVEL: A credit in the concert video as "Executive Producer" ...Plus preview of concert video prior to release...Plus: all 3 interviews listed at $1000 level ...Plus: signed hard-copy of concert DVD. PLUS: if you can get yourself to Guelph on Sept 7, we will welcome you to soundcheck, rehearsal, and backstage after the concert. (Because Rova:Arts is a non-profit organization in USA, $4650 of your gift is tax-deductible.)

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- (33 days)