Heading: for two pianos, saxophone quartet, 'cello, and bass
27 October 1995
The Brass Group / David Miller
Alvin Ailey Dance Company/New York City
Music for Ulysses Dove's Urban Folk Dance
Recording: Flint can be found on the release, five
After hearing the premiere of my saxophone quartet, July (in Cardiff, August, 1995), I realized that the baritone saxophone has a singularly gruff and personable timbre which made me consider the possibility of composing a piece around that kind of instrumental profile. From this starting point, I chose the following instrumentation: saxophone quartet, cello, bass, and two pianos. I use each instrument aggresively in its lower register which brings out a "throaty" kind of music making. The baritone saxophone plays continuous chromatic passages that might remind the listener of an extended jazz improvization. However, the logic behind the pitches is carefully considered. There is a kind of compositional "fall-out": the chunky piano chords derive from the grid that the baritone saxophone provides and the two pianos compete rhythmically for the downbeat. The piece's extroverted nature never lets up; there is a feeling of a plane taking off, reaching higher altitudes, and never returning to the ground until the end of the piece.