Delta Saxophone Quartet

Minimal Tendencies

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An excellent, crystal-clear recording of some of the finest pieces in the so-called minimalist genre, Minimal Tendencies features work by Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Gavin Bryars, and Michael Nyman. All pieces but one are performed with four saxophones, whether originally scored for them or not. An excerpt from Glass' Mishima film score appears here, originally scored for string quartet. Reich's "New York Counterpoint" was originally scored for clarinets and tape. The performances are flawless and beautiful -- the quartet is a well-oiled machine. Bryars' "Alaric I or II" explores the extended playing techniques of the saxophone itself, notably multiphonics, circular breathing, and playing in the extreme harmonic registers. And it's beautiful music, transcending its potential status as merely a clever exercise. Of particular interest on this recording is Riley's "Tread on the Trail," composed in the mid-'60s but previously unreleased on any recording. For this piece, the quartet followed Riley's directions for the piece, but overdubbed two "quartet" versions of it to make one "octet" piece. This one is by far the most adventurous in terms of tonality -- and it is refreshing to hear his work performed since few of his pieces seem to see the light of recording tape. For aficionados of the minimal genre, this recording is a must-have, for these performers are able to take the music and bring it to a whole new level. For aficionados of the saxophone, this disc is also required listening; this is a satisfying listen on all fronts.