A private screening took place at Dolby Studios in San Francisco at the very end of April. John Rogers documentary about Coltrane's Ascension and Rova's Electric Ascension ("Cleaning the Mirror") was shown first. Then the concert video of Electric Ascension was shown in glorious Blu-Ray with 5.1 Surround Sound.
Some of you were there, plus 4 of the musicians in the performance, plus music and film associates, board members, and friends of both Rova:Arts and Ideas in Motion. It's very clear from the response that afternoon that the entire project has been a fantastic success.
So two things are now in process. John Rogers and Ideas in Motion are now trying to line up film festivals and - eventually - big city venues that are capable of presenting the concert film in 5.1 Surround Sound. For those of you who don't know, "surround sound" adds a third speaker to a normal stereo system; instead of having your typical left-front and right-front speaker, you now have an added speaker in the center of the screen in front of you. This third speaker makes all the sound much clearer, better defined, and especially allows for the low end of the sound spectrum to be heard much more distinctly. And then there are also two side speakers which really open the sound up, even though 95% of the musical sound is still in the 3 front speakers. But the side-speakers make the sound feel more immediate and real.
The second process in motion is to figure out how to best release a DVD version of the two videos, so that people can purchase this to watch at home. We imagine the package including both the stereo DVD and a blu-ray version with the 5.1 sound included on the blu-ray. The blu-ray version, it is hoped, will also contain an amazing "extra." In June the film producers will consult with an expert in the computer field who thinks he will be able to create this extra. If it works out as imagined, then anyone will be able to go to any section of the concert video, and then choose one player to highlight. When highlighted you would, for example, be able to hear Nels Cline's playing raised above the rest of the ensemble during that section of the piece. On repeated listenings you will be able to highlight any other player you choose. So if the ensemble is in a very dense section, an orchestral section, and you are wondering what exactly is Cline's contribution to this mass of sound, you will now be able to investigate that. In other words, for students of music and hard-core fans, there will be a whole lot more listening to do over time since you could make this choice with any player, but only one at a time.
I spent many, many hours mixing both the stereo and 5.1 surround sound. (I'm more the adviser than the mixer, since I sit behind the official engineers - Jim McKee on 5.1 and Marc Urselli on the stereo mix - and suggest what should come up and go down.) On this performance, I can say that everyone's contributions to the music were worthy of being heard alone all the way thru the piece. But of course, this is an orchestral work and much of the time, when the entire band or a large portion of the band is playing, choices are made that lift one or two players above the others, or purposely equalize all sounds so that the final mix is orchestrally balanced. The "extra" on blu-ray would allow you to hear individual contributions to the orchestral sound, should you want to get into that kind of detail. It's a pretty cool idea, and worth the delay it may cause in getting the final product out.
In the meantime, for those of you in or near to San Francisco, let me take this moment to alert you to the fact that a sextet of Rova plus Ikue Mori and Gino Robair will present the first performances of a new work called "Grand Electric Skull" on June 6 and 7 in San Francisco's Kanbar Hall; the Hall is located in Jewish Community Center of San Francisco and is one of the best places in San Francisco to hear music. Initially inspired by the topical urgency of Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada’s calaveras imagery, Rova teams up with world renowned visual artist, Ikue Mori, and composer and multi-instrumentalist Gino Robair to create this ambitious collaborative work. Robair will provide a map of the piece, and Rova will collaborate with Robair on the composed-improvised musical score. Mori will be focused on providing live-mixes of images to multiple screens onstage. Robair and Mori will mix and manipulate audio and visual information in real time, lending improvisatory elements of surprise and correspondence to the concert experience.......for tickets: bit.ly/ROVA2013
...............To see a small sampling of the raw images Mori has chosen for possible use in the piece: