Music Program

Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.


Larry Ochs / Don Robinson Duo

Larry Ochs (tenor/sopranino saxophones)
Don Robinson (drums)

Bay Area reedist Larry Ochs cofounded legendary saxophone quartet ROVA in 1978, but he's also made a name for himself outside that group, playing in all sorts of bands with a wide range of musicians. He's been working with drummer Donald Robinson since the early 90s, when they played together in Glenn Spearman's Double Trio, and Robinson has become a fixture in several long-term Ochs projects, including What We Live (a steady trio augmented by varying guests) and the Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core (which also includes Scott Amendola and, on the 2009 album Stone Shift, pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura). It's almost strange that it took till last year for the two of them to develop a regular working duo. Robinson is neither flashy nor explosive, but his playing has heft and he covers lots of ground—he can maintain a feeling of order while playing meterless rhythms or transform the pulse of jagged postbop till it's almost abstract. He's a good match for Ochs, and over the decades the two of them have developed a fine-tuned rapport. Robinson alternately corrals the horn man's fiery energy and enlivens his drier sounds, and on some unreleased tracks I've heard, he seems to inspire Ochs to play a kind of muscular funk I'd expect from Ken Vandermark. - Peter Margasak

In his thirty-plus years in Rova Saxophone Quartet, Larry Ochs has created roughly two dozen compositions for saxophone quartet as well as other pieces for Rova in extended ensembles, many of which are recorded, and some of which were commissioned by Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation and Meet the Composer. He has been acting executive director of Rova:Arts since 1987. In addition Ochs currently composes for and leads Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core (with Scott Amendola, Don Robinson, Satoko Fujii, and Natsuki Tamura and Kihnoua (with vocalist Dohee Lee, Scott Amendola and special guests. He is performing in collective bands: East-West Ensemble (with Didier Petit, Sylvain Kassap, Miya Masaoka, Xu Fengxia), Jones Jones (with Mark Dresser and Vladimir Tarasov), Maybe Monday (with Masaoka and Fred Frith),Shelton-Ochs Quartet (with Aram Shelton, Kjell Nordeson and Scott Walton). Details on tours and recordings, and several interviews at

Described as a "percussive dervish" (Coda) Donald Robinson is a technical master of the drums. He is a stalwart of the of San Francisco Bay Area avant-garde jazz scene, playing and recording with many of the area's improvisors, from saxophonists John Tchicai, Marco Eneidi and Larry Ochs to koto player Miya Masaoka and pianist Matthew Goodheart, and with prominent visitors like Cecil Taylor, Wadada Leo Smith, George Lewis, Raphe Malik and Paul Plimley. Much of this work has featured the combination of Robinson and bassist Lisle Ellis as rhythm section: 'the best bass-drums tag team on the scene' (Jazz Times). His longest musical association, dating from the 1970's, was with the late tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman.

Hallwalls Music Program is made possible through the generous support of David Kennedy, Robert D. Bielecki (, a grant for jazz programming from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, & public funds from the Music program of the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.