Post-ROVA, Still Roving
Musician Andrew Voigt is postjazz, too.
By Rachel Swan
Peering out the windows of his studio in
Oakland's Jingletown, Bay Area woodwind player and improviser
Andrew Voigt can see limousines and stretch Hummers gliding up
to the "higher-end" studio next door, with the
same kind of slow-motion effect you'd see in rap videos. "My
neighbor has a hip-hop studio of some sort," he explains. "Other
people in my building recognize who these people are and they go,
'Wow, that's so-and-so, and oooh.'" Voigt doesn't really keep up
with trends, and seems pretty much inoculated against the cult of
fashion and celebrity that surrounds these hip-hop artists. Growing
up in Salt Lake City, the former school-band clarinetist cultivated
a love for music, borrowing Coltrane albums or late Bartok string
quartets from his local library, and hanging out at the one indie
record shop that was hip enough to carry Sun Ra. "We were not normal
Utahans by any means," he recalls. "My dad was an English professor
at the University of Utah, and a bit of a hippie; my mother was a
Jew from Queens. The whole house was really unusual for Utah."
After migrating to the Bay Area in
1977 and forming ROVA Saxophone Quartet -- he's the original "V,"
though he hasn't performed with the group for about ten years --
Voigt became one of the first US musicians to tour the Eastern Bloc
back when the Iron Curtain was still up. ROVA would fly in for
thirty days, play a show a night, and fly out, but Voigt says that
because he was curious about the world and could exist on less money
than most other people, he'd often stay a few weeks longer to jam
out in galleries with other experimental musicians. Since then, he's
left ROVA to pursue other projects. He now makes improvised film
scores with a group called Reel Change, which includes fellow "postjazz"
saxophonist Phillip Greenlief. Voigt does electrical work and
installs solar panels to make ends meet. In his spare time, he plays
improvises music with trombonist Ron Heglin, trumpeter Ray Hill,
guitarist Terry Roleri, guitarist Deborah Craig, bassist George
Cremachi, and drummer Joe Sabella. These musicians have played
together every week in Voigt's studio for ten years. They'll appear
sans Sabella at this weekend's Zipper Jazz Festival to play
their first public gig ever.
Voigt is joined by many other
iconoclasts at the two-day benefit for the Jazz House, put on by
Berkeley Arts Festival, that cool, roaming organization that's spent
seventeen years using abandoned storefronts to put on everything
from punk shows to Schoenberg piano recitals. The Zipper Festival,
which takes place Friday through Sunday at the Fidelity Bank
Building (2323 Shattuck Ave.), also includes performances by John
Gruntfest, Damon Smith, Bill Crossman, Howard Wiley, Lisa Mezzacappa,
and Weasel Walter. Friday at 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.
$10-$15 for individual shows, $30 for a three-day pass.
TheJazzHouse.com or BerkeleyArtsFestival.com
Date/Time: Fri., May 11,
6:00pm, Sat., May 12, 2:00pm, Sun., May 13, 2:00pm