for Saxophone Quartet

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Aabac was written in 13 days between Septemeber 10th and November 2nd of 2013, the composition being interrupted by several trips and other projects that the I had to undertake. The title was conceived before even a note of the music was written, and came from each letter of the name of the dedicatory group being reversed, as it were, in the alphabet, Z becoming A,Y becoming B, and X, C. Thus the name of the Zzyzx Quartet, certainly alphabetically the last among all performing ensembles, generated a name for a work that would be alphabetically first among all pieces of music. This idea appealed greatly to the me, given that I have taught biblical theology, and as an expositor of the Bible, was aware of the statement of Jesus, "So the last will be first, and the first last, " (Matthew 29:16) a statement declaring that many who are in a top status in this world will be at the bottom in the next. However, by choosing this title is not meant to suggest anything about the Zzyzx Quartet's standing in the saxophone world, even though the group is recognized as one of the top quartets currently active. The name also appealed to me because it can be represented by the four notes A-B-B-flat-C derive. This occurs, since in German notation, the note B is B-flat, while in English, it is B-natural, which is H according to German usage. With this tetrachord, the well-known B-A-C-H motive may be presented, and indeed, this ordering of those pitches is frequently employed in the work. After this initial tetrachord, Icreated two others (D, F-sharp, E-flat,G, and E, F, G-sharp, C-sharp) to complement the first, and to fill out the remaining eight notes of the chromatic scale. The entire piece is spun out from these three tetrachords, which are used in both melodic and harmonic ways. The final section, however is much more loosely based on them. The tonality of Aabac, pronounced "aback," is quite free, and is rather atonal at times, with the juxtaposition of more than one of the tetrachords often employed. Cast in one continuous movement, the work has several sections that contrast in mood, tempo and complexity. All in all, the work reflects my attempt to display both the virtuosity and musicianship of four gifted performers, who have set an extremely high standard in saxophone quartet playing. From the founding of the group, the members of Zzyzx Quartet include Stacy Wilson, soprano sax, Stephen Page, alto sax, Matt Evans, tenor sax, and Dana Booher, baritone sax.

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