Chanting the light of Foresight
Rova Saxophone Quartet
A brain-food delicacy.
The Tain Bo Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) is a central part of the eighth-century Ulster cycle of heroic tales and is Ireland's nearest approach to a great epic. It tells the story of a giant cattle-raid, the invasion of Ulster by the armies of Medb and Ailill, queen and king of Connacht, and their allies, seeking to carry off the great Brown Bull of Cuailnge.
Following an abandoned collaboration with the playwright Lee Brewer that was centered on the Thomas Kinsella translation of The Tain, I found myself under a spell and so began the work for the Rova. The wonderful rhythms and colours of the ancient names and places; Badb, Bricriu, Conchobor, Cuchulain, Finnabair, Galeoin, Scathach and Daire mac Fiachna must have floated their way to surface in some musical line or other.
Although extremely difficult to accomplish, I wanted to have part of the quartet's movements in "resonant intonation" with pure intervals combining in the saxophones radiant timbres. After composing the music I made a tape on the Prophet 5 synthesizer of the tuning so that the players could match the intervals in their rehearsals. Rova has taken this challenge seriously. The result is sounds that I have not heard previously coming from saxophones and is right in the tradition of Rova cutting an alternate groove in contemporary music. When we originally conceived of the project we wanted to leave room for lots of improvisation. This not only takes place in the "Pipes of Medb" and "Medb's Blues" but in addition Rova created the Battle Music section which is one of my favorites and points to their strong compositional abilities.
Available here: iTunes
New Albion Records, Inc.