ROVA Saxophone Quartet & Nels Cline Singers:
Bruce Ackley, soprano, tenor saxophones; Steve Adams, alto, sopranino saxophones; Scott Amendola, drums; Nels Cline, guitars; Devin Hoff, bass; Larry Ochs, tenor, sopranino saxophones; Jon Raskin, baritone, alto, sopranino saxophones
[The Celestial Septet] sounds a cosmic death knell for fixed ideas about musical protocol and decorum, and a round trip through its 68 minutes leaves no horizon intact. —Derk Richardson
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.