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. or

Date/Time: Fri., May 11, 6:00pm, Sat., May 12, 2:00pm, Sun., May 13, 2:00pm