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You may have graduated, but Ida's still playing its pristine college rock. Plus, Coltrane gets taken "out" by an "Orkestrova."

Back in my collegiate years, I saw Ida perform at this dingy-ass rock club in Kalamazoo, Mich. The band was crafting a delicate Nick Drakeinspired style of indie-folk for a crowd of Midwesterners indicative of the times -- a sparse mix of indie-bred college dorks and burly hicks who own records by the Cows and the Jesus Lizard. In a town the size of K'zoo, all kinds of freaks tend to show up at any show that isn't pseudo-Seger workingman's rock. This often causes static, as was the case that night when this bearish slob by the name of Roderick drunkenly fired off several rounds of "You pussies fucking suck" because Ida "can't rock." No shit, Roderick. That's the point. So main Ida dude Daniel Littleton asked him to "Please come to the front." Roderick did and Littleton, in total sincerity, crooned to him like they were the best buddies in the whole, wide world. Roderick replied with a stiff middle finger, but Littleton's voice only grew sweeter, softer, and richer. Roderick sheepishly scurried away, and everyone that night really fell for Ida. Perhaps you will, too, when the band plays Bottom of the Hill on Saturday, March 26; call 626-0333 or go to www.bottomofthehill.com for more info. -- Justin F. Farrar


In 1965, legendary saxophonist John Coltrane led the landmark recording of Ascension, a 40-minute structured improvisation for nearly a dozen instrumentalists. After the session, Trane famously told free-jazz pioneer Albert Ayler, "I was playing just like you." Which was true inasmuch as the piece used blues, dense walls of sound, raucous communication among the improvisers, and sheer force of spirit to drive the music forward. Four decades later, the Bay Area's top post-jazz innovators of Rova Saxophone Quartet are resurrecting this seminal work as a key installment in SFJAZZ's seven-part "The Coltrane Project." Still controversial to this day, Ascension has been called a masterpiece by some critics and a mountain of noise by others. Adding an international cast of extraordinary improvisers to its ranks (drummer Donald Robinson, turntablist Otomo Yoshihide, electronics mavens Ikue Mori and Chris Brown, violinists Carla Kihlstedt and Jenny Scheinman, guitarists Nels Cline and Fred Frith), the "Orkestrova" will likely prove both sides right when the group appears on Sunday, March 27, at Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. Call 776-1999 or go to www.sfjazz.org.-- Sam Prestianni

 
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