Gradient

In Thomas Pynchon’s famous novel Gravity’s Rainbow musical modernism is succinctly described as “an expansion of music’s polymorphous perversity till all the notes were truly equal at last.”

This compilation of new music for saxophone illustrates that the same can be said for the expansion of tone colors and extended techniques, which composers have devised to reject, or re-envision, the saxophone’s conventional roles of mellow crooner, exotic beckoner, and improvisatory wizard.

The works on this recording are representative of the captivating journeys that recent musical compositions take through time and space, whether they are subjective or objective; spiritual or secular; tangible or abstract. The saxophone’s capacity for virtuosic display and coloristic versatility has made it attractive to a multitude of living composers. The instrument is also acquiring an ever-expanding repertoire of works originally composed for other woodwind instruments, as evidenced here by Jeffrey Heisler’s masterful transcriptions of works by Chen Yi and Steve Reich.

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Reviews:

Throughout this recital, one cannot but be amazed by Heisler’s imagination, facility, and flexibility. The technical demands of these works are many, varied, and sometimes fearsome, and they are met by the soloist with apparent ease. I need to praise, as well, pianist I-Chen Ye, whose contemporary music credentials are as impressive as Heisler’s, and who accomplishes some extraordinary technical feats, not least in the demanding Sekhon score. She and Heisler perform together with some regularity as the Heisler/Yeh Duo and are colleagues at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Four of the six works were premiered by Heisler, at least in these versions, and of these versions, only the Leroux is available on commercial recording. Only Heisler’s recording of  SPP incorporates composer corrections to the published score. Mark Bunce’s engineering is up to its usual high standards. This is fascinating stuff, and connoisseurs of new music for saxophone will not want to miss it.

–Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare Magazine

Track List

1. GradientBaljinder Sekhon II

2. Monologue – (Impressions on The True Story of Ah Q)  Chen Yi 

Brahma Viharas (Heavenly Abode) – Timothy Stulman

3. I. Metta (Loving Kindness)

4. II. Karma (Compassion)

5. III. Equanimity

6. IV. Sharing Joy

7. SPPPhilippe Leroux

8. Portals of LightFrank Wiley

9. Vermont CounterpointSteve Reich