Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Thu, Sep 8 2016 8:00 PM

Larry Ochs, Tenor and Sopranino Saxophone / Don Robinson, Drums

Performing together in various ensembles since 1991, Ochs and Robinson performed for the first time as a duo in 2011 in their hometown San Francisco Bay Area. At each of the first two concerts, an enthusiastic recording engineer offered them free access to his studio in the following months. As a result, the duo recorded a CD’s worth of music over that summer, and that is now released as The Throne (in January 2015 on the CD label Not Two). That material comprises much of the music they performed on tour in 2013, their first year performing together (as a duo) outside San Francisco.

Ochs is a founding member of the great ROVA Saxophone Quartet, one of the Bay Area’s avant-garde treasures since 1978. Robinson – “a percussive dervish,” according to Coda – was the drummer of choice for ROVA’s revivification of John Coltrane’s Ascension. The East Bay Express has said of the saxophonist’s sound: “Ochs’ full-bodied tenor is out of the John Coltrane/Albert Ayler ‘free’ tradition: forceful, passionate… talking-in-tongues,” while the Chicago Reader said about the drummer and his relationship with Ochs: “Robinson is neither flashy nor explosive, but his playing has heft and he covers lots of ground – he can maintain a feeling of order while playing meter-less rhythms or transform the pulse of jagged post-bop until it’s almost abstract. He’s a good match for Ochs, and over the decades the two of them have developed a fine-tuned rapport.”

Although Ochs and Robinson have collaborated in various groups for more than 20 years – including in the trio What We Live with bassist Lisle Ellis – their duo is a recent phenomenon, having developed over the past couple of years. Ochs says: “Our playing together has evolved to a really special place, I think. We’re definitely coming out of the tradition of horn-drum duos from John Coltrane & Rashied Ali to Wadada Leo Smith & Billy Higgins, but we’ve found our own space after a long stretch of shows together. Our set will include new, original material, with some high-energy playing and things that are more spatial, as well as some homages to more popular music. In a sparse setting like this, the music hits a listener right away – nothing is obscured, everything is clear.”

Cost: $6-15 sliding
Audio samples in which musicians at this event play: