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Riga Saxophone Quartet - Song and Dance
Traditional arr. Robert C. JONES Amazing Grace
Carleton MACY (b. 1944) Song and Dance
Rusty DEDRICH (b. 1916) The Modern Art Suite
Gabriel JACKSON (b. 1962) Rhythm and Blues
Pedro ITTURALDE (b. 1929) Suite Hellenique
John ‘Dizzy’ GILLESPIE (1917-1993) arr. Rainer MULLER-IRON A Night in Tunisiaellenique (1929)He
Riga Saxophone Quartet: Gints Pabērzs; Artis Simanis; Ainars Šablovskis; Renārs Lācis
Kārlis Lācis (piano)

Rec. Latvian Radio Studio, May 2002, May 2003. DDD
RIGA SAXOPHONE QUARTET no number [60:24]
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I was pleased to receive this disc for review. It was sent to me by Gabriel Jackson, a good friend of the vivid, virtuosic and sensitive Riga Saxophone Quartet.

The deep and mellow arrangement of Robert C. Jones' Amazing Grace is dawn-awakening jazz. It arises from a ruminative dream with increasingly assertive metropolitan solos. The five movement suite Song and Dance is by Carleton Macy (b. 1944). This is cool, light, faintly Gallic, jazzy, sometimes minimalistic as in the Ouverture. Then comes a soporific Tango held firm by the tendrils of sleep. Caravane has a sinuous mesmerising North African rhapsodic flavour. It's interesting that this suite encloses three slow-dominance movements between the darting energy of Ouverture and the aggression of Swing - both with populist infusions. Rusty Dedrich (b. 1918) provides The Modern Art Suite with five movements entitled: Impressionism, Purism, Mysticism, Surrealism and Realism. Impressionism is no melting watercolour; in fact this made me wonder about how real the connection was between title and music - jut a conveniently catchy set of names? Purism is an understated down-and-dirty strut. Mysticism is in step with the music: a fine harmonic miasma and droop. Surrealism is positive and sanguine. The insistent and catchy Realism recalls the minimalistic style of Macy's Ouverture.

Rhythm and Blues by Gabriel Jackson (b.1962) is made up of little cells reiterated. It is an engaging piece - fragmented but full of tension and with some superbly rasp-ratchety deep music for the baritone sax (tr. 12, 2.43). Pedro Itturalde's Suite Héllenique is in four movements. The opening Kalamatianos and the final Kritis have a sultry, exotic, folksy lilt, whereas Funky is cosmopolitan - more Athens night club tribute to New York than anything else. Valse sets a surprisingly breathless pace for such a dance with little jazzy paraphs along the way.

The 'sign-off' piece is A Night in Tunisia by John 'Dizzy' Gillespie (1917-1993) arranged by Rainer Muller-Iron. This is mainstream, wild and woolly, free-ranging, chattering and with a strong bass sax accent.

This makes a pleasant change. Not to be missed for anyone who loves lighter music for the saxophone - especially those well disposed to jazz.

Rob Barnett

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