American Saxophone Quartet

The Commission Project

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The American Saxophone Quartet is the offspring of a music education initiative known as The Commission Project (TCP), which supports the writing of new music for study and performance in schools nationwide. The four pieces on this album, all commissioned by TCP, are performed by four classical saxophonists: David Demsey (alto), David Carroll (tenor), Albert Regni (soprano), and Lino Gomez (baritone). On each of the four compositions they're joined by a guest clarinetist: Larry Combs on Michael Holober's "Views From a Train," Paquito D'Rivera on Gabriel Senanes' "Cubamericargie Quintet" and his own "Quasi an Arabesque," and Ron Odrich on Bernard Hoffer's "The Toy Chest." The results are unequivocally third stream -- contemporary classical forms and harmonies cross-pollinate with jazz rhythmic concepts and improvised passages. Each composer (and clarinetist) approaches this fusion in his own way, admirably free of self-conscious stylistic constraints. D'Rivera's single-movement contribution, co-written with his son Franco, is probably the least jazz-influenced of all, oddly enough. Hoffer's playful entry, meanwhile, bursts with jazz references and serves as a closing tour de force. (It was Hoffer, incidentally, who composed the theme music for The PBS Newshour.)

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