*In process of stocking. 2022 stock.* Larry Ochs may be best known as one-quarter of the Rova Saxophone Quartet, the Bay-area group, which, in its near-40 year history, has created large-scale works with composers as diverse as Terry Riley and Barry Guy. Ochs’ projects outside of Rova have often been just as noteworthy. He first assembled The Fictive Five for a performance at his 2013 residency at The Stone and this recent recording testifies to the way the band’s strengths realize Ochs’ compositional methodology.
It’s a band of mostly younger New York musicians: trumpeter Nate Wooley, bassists Ken Filiano and Pascal Niggenkemper and drummer Harris Eisenstadt. A certain empathy is assured, with Wooley and Niggenkemper members of Eisenstadt’s Canada Day among other associations, but Ochs’ approach to organization supports and emphasizes the band’s creative strengths. Each of Ochs’ extended pieces makes extensive use of cues with some specified drones and occasional melodic figures, creating open- ended works playing to the band’s developed spontaneity and genuinely collective vision.
The compositions are fundamentally cinematic, each dedicated to a filmmaker and conceived as a kind of soundtrack, a sequence of shifting textures that might generate images rather than serve them. The opening “Similitude (for Wim Wenders)” moves from an opening unison cry and fragment of melody through segments highlighted by Wooley shifting from clarion call to wild sprays of particulate sound and Ochs using his sopranino to suggest a shofar. Ultimately, though, it’s a collective creation: the bassists often function orchestrally, with bowed chords and multiphonics dense with microtones and Eisenstadt constantly prodding and commenting on everything around him.
“By Any Other Name (for William Kentridge)” has a modal “Spanish tinge” (Jelly Roll Morton’s term), something that will link this to figures from Morton through Miles and Coltrane, but, like all the music here, it’s consistently fresh. It breaks new ground while working through the deep roots of Ochs’ conception, invoking Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler to achieve a depth of expression reaching back to New Orleans primitives (according to Jerome Rothenberg, “primitive means complex”) like the Eureka Brass Band. (January 2016)
- Stuart Broomer, NYC Jazz Record