In the spring of 2015 I went to a rehearsal of my son Kevin’s saxophone quartet at the University of North Texas. Of course I had heard Kevin play in several types of ensembles, but I especially enjoyed the power of the saxophone quartet. I immediately started thinking about a work for marimba and Kevin’s quartet. It just seemed to be a perfect combination. This isn’t a first as there are other works that utilize marimba with saxophone quartet such as David Kechley’s Valencia: Iberian Musings (http://www.pinevalleypress.com/node/40), but the list of saxophone quartet music with marimba is rather short. For my composition I decided to add a cajón to give the marimba’s articulation some edge and also to give the work character and drive.
Pivot Point is dedicated to Kevin Ford and we premiered it on his UNT senior recital in October of 2015. Pivot Point seemed to be a good title for someone who was graduating from college (UNT – Suma Cum Laude) and going on to graduate school (UNC-Greensboro). Nice! So I started writing…
Pivot Point was a departure for me in composition. I had written a saxophone/marimba duo called Wink (also dedicated to Kevin), but this new project was very different. Wink was a groovy “rock and roll” approach to a duet. Pivot Point was a new approach as I explored different harmonic gestures and voicings with the quartet. Writing from the piano and Finale, the opening section quickly took shape, and I enjoyed exploring the possibilities. The marimba jumps from the role of the accompaniment to exchanging motives with the saxophones often and the cajón creates a strong rhythmic underpinning. There is a brief baritone sax cadenza in the middle of the work which sets the tone for the following section, and, yes you guessed it, Kevin was playing baritone in the quartet! The work ends after a driving unison section that builds to the final statement of the opening motive.
While writing I turned to my saxophone friends such as Eric Nestler (UNT), Michael Jacobson (Baylor) and Clifford Leaman (University of South Carolina) for advice. I also shared drafts with Eugene Corporon, Dennis Fisher and Nicholas Williams at UNT as well as percussionist Scott Herring at USC. All of these wonderful musicians supported my work and gave me ideas to consider and words of inspiration. Many thanks!!
And finally, (as I have just sent the revised score and parts in to Innovative Percussion for publication), many thanks to Erik Johnson, George Barrett and Lowell Layne for their support as they have published 95% of my music at IP! All I can say is, they are the best!
There are two videos here of Pivot Point, one of the premier at UNT and one of a recent performance at Baylor. Enjoy!
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