Performing together in various ensembles since 1991, Ochs and Robinson performed for the first time as a duo in 2011 in their hometown San Francisco Bay Area. At each of the first two concerts, an enthusiastic recording engineer offered them free access to his studio in the following months. As a result, the duo recorded a CD’s worth of music over that summer, and that was released as The Throne (in January 2015 on the CD label Not Two). That material comprises much of the music they performed on tour in 2013, their first year performing together (as a duo) outside San Francisco.
Ochs is a founding member of the great ROVA Saxophone Quartet, one of the Bay Area’s avant-garde treasures since 1978. Robinson – “a percussive dervish,” according to Coda – was the drummer of choice for ROVA’s revivification of John Coltrane’s Ascension. The East Bay Express has said of the saxophonist’s sound: “Ochs’ full-bodied tenor is out of the John Coltrane/Albert Ayler ‘free’ tradition: forceful, passionate… talking-in-tongues,” while the Chicago Reader said about the drummer and his relationship with Ochs: “... his playing has heft and he covers lots of ground – he can maintain a feeling of order while playing meter-less rhythms or transform the pulse of jagged post-bop until 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.”
Although Ochs and Robinson have collaborated in various groups for more than 20 years – including in the trio What We Live with bassist Lisle Ellis – their duo is a recent phenomenon, having developed over the past couple of years. Ochs says: “Our playing together has evolved to a really special place, I think. We’re definitely coming out of the tradition of horn-drum duos from John Coltrane & Rashied Ali to Wadada Leo Smith & Billy Higgins, but we’ve found our own space after a long stretch of shows together. Our set will include new, original material, with some high-energy playing and things that are more spatial, as well as some homages to more popular music. In a sparse setting like this, the music hits a listener right away – nothing is obscured, everything is clear.”
Ochs and Robinson performance history together includes:
1991 to 1998 in The Glenn Spearman Double Trio.
1994 to 2002, What We Live, a trio - initated by bassist Lisle Ellis - that recorded many CDs and added incredible guests for special concerts/recordings including Dave Douglas, Wadada Leo Smith, Nels Cline, John Zorn, Miya Masaoka, Saadet Turkoz and Chris Brown, among others.
2000 to 2010 - Robinson was part of the Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core featuring drummer Scott Amendola, as well as Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura from 2007 - 2010.
2003 – Robinson performed in Rova’s first two iterations of Electric Ascension.
Throughout all this time, Ochs and Robinson jammed and rehearsed in Robinson’s studio, easily done as they live only 15 minutes apart. Thus it seems inevitable that they would – eventually - create a special repertoire for this duo.