Best Jazz Combo
Rova Saxophone Quartet
Most expect a jazz combo to have a general instrumental configuration — keyboards, bass, drums, horns, sometimes guitar. But Bay Area fearless foursome Rova has cared little for convention or expectation since its 1977 inception — four saxophones, no waiting. Their moniker is an acronym for founding members Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs, Andrew Voigt, and Bruce Ackley, and in 31 years there's been only one personnel change: Steve Adams replaced Voigt. With a global reputation and more than two dozen recordings to its credit, Rova blurs the lines between jazz improvisation and contemporary classical composition. Originals are by band members, master minimalist Terry Riley and avant-rocker/Mills College prof Fred Frith have composed for them, and collaborators include Nels Cline, Carla Kihlstedt, and Otomo Yoshihide. Vivid, visceral, and unpredictable, Rova sounds like no other band.