Review


Manny Albam
Quintet for Trombone and Saxophone Quartet:
Quintet for trombone and saxophone quartet doubling on piccolo, flute, b-flat clarinet and bassoon

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2017
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com

Score and parts plus alternative score and parts for third movement.

Genre: CHAMBER MUSIC

New York raised composer, Manny Albam is known among jazz musicians for his compositions and arrangements of musical luminaries such as Leonard Bernstein and Stan Kenton, including close collaborations with trombone virtuosos Bob Brookmeyer, Urbie Green, and Curtis Fuller. This quintet was written for the exalted trombonist Jim Pugh and the American Saxophone Quartet. Not surprisingly, the piece is remarkably challenging both technically and musically.

 

Albam’s masterful orchestration provides a rich sound with a transparent texture allowing easy projection of the solo part. He calls for a traditional saxophone quartet – soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone – for all movements except the third one, which calls for a woodwind quartet of piccolo, flute, b-flat clarinet, and bassoon. Although the edition provides an alternative version of the third moment for saxophone quartet, the cover title is misleading for not providing information about the woodwind doubling.

 

The piece is colorful and varied in style; its first movement is mostly playful and energetic eventually switching to a mysterious atmosphere in the final section. The second movement invokes a jazz ballad while the third movement resembles a mid-twentieth-century French composition due to its colorful tones, chromatic melodies, and light texture. The fourth movement sounds quintessentially neoclassic American with block harmonies, parallel motion, and wide-open melodic lines.

 

Jim Pugh’s virtuosic skills and artistry seem to clearly impact Albam’s composition, which requires agility, stamina, flexibility and an extensive range going from FF-sharp up to e2. The solo part is idiomatic and requires familiarity with the jazz style due to its frequent fast chromatic arpeggios, rhythmic energy, and the Tommy Dorsey style ballad in the second movement. Albam’s work is a welcomed addition to the trombone repertoire. It enriches the options for solo trombone and chamber ensembles both for professionals and advanced students.

Reviewer: Lucas Borges
Review Published January 31, 2019