Three Short Pieces
for alto saxophone and piano
The second and third movements of this set were composed for, and premiered by, Matthew James as "Two Short Pieces" during the University of Toledo's Spring Festival of 1997. Later, a third movement (actually used as the first movement) was added. I have added descriptive subtitles to help with interpretation and to clarify the approach I took toward the writing of each piece. In the first movement, there are sections in which the players seem to be playing "out of time" and/or "out" of the prevailing "tonality". It is for this reason that I appended the subtitle Playing Out. Gentle Descent, the second movement, creates a continually falling wash of harmonic colors in the piano part and places a high, lyrical, and gradually descending saxophone melody over it. Finally, Perpetual Bop is based on the traditional idea of "perpetual motion", but utilizes a fast, continuous and syncopated type of saxophone playing that could be heard as a distant relative of jazz.
(performance time for all three pieces is ca. 12 minutes)