Douglas Masek

Saxtronic Soundscape

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Douglas Masek's Saxtronic Soundscape is a follow-up to his 2006 release on Centaur, Saxophone Alternative, which presented contemporary works primarily for saxophone with instrumental accompaniment, while this 2007 CD, the second installment in a series of three, is a showcase of works for saxophone with electronics or acoustic instruments. There is no single unifying style or aesthetic in the program, since the composers were chosen mostly for their proximity to Masek's base of operation, Los Angeles, and all creative options were open to them. The first three works feature Masek on either soprano or alto saxophones against electro-acoustic sounds or a pre-recorded tape of his playing, and the music ranges from the poignantly lyrical, soaring lines of Alex Shapiro's Desert Tide, and the abstract, hall-of-mirrors effects of Liviu Marinescu's Bach Variations, to the shimmering fusion jazz of Roger Bourland's Glamour and Eros. Jane Brockman's 2006 version of Tenacious Turns, originally composed for clarinet, is a virtuoso etude for both soprano and alto saxes with electronics, and Paul Colicchio's lush Places I've Been is a sentimental reverie for soprano sax over a background of keyboards and synthesized strings. Possibly the most ambitious work of the disc is William Haubrich's suite for voices, saxophones, and ensemble, AfriSax -- a three-movement work that employs ritual drumming, chanting, and jazz inflections in tribute to African initiations, lamentations, and celebrations. Centaur's audio is clear and warm, though the volume can be quite loud at times.

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