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The Music Gallery

Sunday, September 30, 1979
The Saxophone Quartet
Maury Coles, Nobuo Kubota
John Oswald, Bill Smith

Jazz history is often catalogued from the sidelines by non musicians who have little or no intimate knowledge of the history or procedure involved. Too many take the simple route and in their lack of understanding link together series of events as though they are fact.

My own personal introduction to the saxophone quartet had been in the early seventies with the discovery of the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet. This had come about reading that John Coltrane used Sigurd Raschèr’s “Top-Tones for Saxophone” as part of his daily practice routine.

At the time of this concert two saxophone quartets had risen to prominence, or as prominent as jazz ever reaches. The World Saxophone Quartet [WSQ] and ROVA. Interestingly three members of the WSQ – Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett – had previously recorded with Anthony Braxton on Arista [AL4032 -October 16/1974] and do not appear on record with the addition of David Murray until June 1977 at the Moers Jazz Festival in Germany [Moers Music 01034].

ROVA, an acronym formed from the initials of the surnames of the founding members: John Raskin, Larry Ochs, Andrew Voigt and Bruce Ackley first appear on record in 1978 [Cinema Rovate – Metalanguage ML 101].

The WSQ was basically an American jazz quartet that played melodic tunes with solos. ROVA, although marginally jazz, was more intellectually inclined to composition, influenced not only by contempory jazz musicians [John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton] but modern composers [John Cage, Charles Ives, Edgard Varese, Olivier Messiaen].
Our quartet was not influenced by either of these ensembles, given as we were to totally free improvisation. The closest to composition possibly a graphic sketch [Nowhere in Particular]. Mostly though intuitive interaction among four friends!

In this period [1976 – 1983] the Music Gallery, home of the Canadian Creative Music Collective [CCMC], was a dream come true. The space at 30 St. Patrick Street in Toronto allowed the original eight musicians to gather twice weekly. There were also numerous concerts of visitors including international figures – as can be seen from the poster. Unfortunately the history of the CCMC has become somewhat jumbled, possibly written by writers who were nothing to do with its original concept. The CCMC is now a trio with the remaining original member being Michael Snow. The other two are sound-singer Paul Dutton and saxophonist John Oswald.

With John Oswald [alto saxophone] and myself [soprano saxophone] our quartet is completed by two alto saxophonists: multi-media artist Nobuo Kubota and Maury Coles. The latter passed into the spirit world in September 2001.

1. Nowhere In Particular [12:41] Bill Smith

2. Six Duets [17:27] John Oswald

3. Are You Nervous [16:41] Maury Coles/Bill Smith

4. Not What’s In The Program [12:26] Nobuo Kubota

End Notes:
Rascher Saxophone Quartet: [http://www.rsq-sax.com/index.html]
Music Gallery [https://www.musicgallery.org]
CCMC Volume 1 – 1976: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bz8_p09oiqg]
CCMC – 1995 [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epsDAADK2XA]
Nobuo Kubota: [http://ccca.concordia.ca/videoportrait/english/kubota.html]
Michael Snow [http://www.fondation-langlois.org/digital-snow/]
Paul Dutton [https://pduttonpoetry.wordpress.com]
John Oswald [http://www.6q.com/joswbio/]