Last year the jazz world celebrated the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s spiritually charged album, "A Love Supreme," a work embraced then and now as a masterpiece. The saxophonist’s next major release, 1966’s "Ascension," left the jazz world divided, and it’s safe to say its golden anniversary is going to pass without much notice by the jazz establishment.
A 40-minute piece that explodes from a simple five-note theme referencing the “Acknowledgement” section of "A Love Supreme," "Ascension" is an ecstatic free jazz revelation featuring 11 musicians, including Coltrane’s classic quartet and an almost ad hoc collection of horn players.
Where "A Love Supreme" served as a finely wrought vessel for Coltrane’s spiritual yearning, "Ascension" was more like glimpsing the face of God directly, and many of Coltrane’s fans refused to follow him into this daunting realm.
Leave it to Rova, the long-running Bay Area saxophone quartet featuring Steve Adams, Bruce Ackley, Jon Raskin and Larry Ochs, to put their own stamp on this marvelously unruly music. Their new release, "Rova Channeling Coltrane," is a three-disc set with a CD, DVD and Blu-ray of the 12-piece Orkestrova performing "Electric Ascension" at the Guelph Jazz Festival in Ontario in 2012.