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The Electric Saxophone

Cover Art: "Genien" by Paul Klee
Cover Design: Cheryl Takata

Available at your favorite digital etailers
including iTunes, Rhapsody and eMusic

Catalog Number: CPS-8636
Audio Format: Stereo, DDD
Playing Time: 68:43
Release Date: 1997

Track Listing & Audio Samples
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    Joan Tower
Wings (10:06)
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    John Cage
  2. Four 5 (12:00)
    Vladimer Ussachevsky
  3. Mimicry (4:24)
    Marilyn Shrude
  4. Drifting Over a Red Place (9:44)
    Pablo Furman
  5. Music for Alto Saxophone and Tape (14:07)
    Mark Bunce
  6. Waterwings (8:50)
    James Mobberley
  7. Spontaneous Combustion (8:53)


Australian Clarinet and Saxophone - March 1999 - by James Nightingale

"John Sampen is the saxophone teacher at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, which runs the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music from its College of Musical Arts. He is also currently the President of the North American Saxophone Alliance. It is not surprising that this CD of music for saxophone accompanied by electronic means (of one form or another) is interesting and challenging to the listener. I would qualify this statement by adding that the variety of works and styles means that there should be something for anyone with an adventurous ear on this CD. Sampen's playing is characterized by a rich sound which is utilized with superb control and tact. The underlying restraint makes sure that none of the dynamic and tonal contrasts are missed by the listener. Sampen's vision and the music come to the fore in perfect balance.

The first work on the disk is Joan Towers Wings, which is played on this disk in canon with itself. This creates a mesmerizing effect with each new idea accompanied by each preceding idea. John Cages Four 5 is one of the versions of his work Four for string quartet, which Cage adapted for a group of saxophones. Sampen performs all of the parts on this recording, giving it the electronic quality to make it at home on this disc. Two of the works use tape prepared using recorded sounds of the saxophone altered by the composer: Mimicry by Vladimer Ussachevsky and Music for Alto Saxophone and Electronics by Pablo Furman. While the Ussachevsky contains quite approachable musical lines, the Furman is very abstract, being a collection of saxophone sounds, notes, slaps and squeals accompanied by electronic beeps, clicks and hums, some sampled and some synthesized. Mark Bunee's Waterwings is an exciting and approachable work in which the saxophone progresses through an interactive computer program and a variety of special effects. The modal nature of the harmonies and the rhythmic/formal framework which is similar to that of popular music blend the effects and the saxophone into an enjoyable, satisfying work. Spontaneous Combustion by James Mobberley also uses an interactive computer program. In this work the interaction acts something like an orchestra might accompany in a concerto, progressing through tutti passages, imitative passages, etc.

Overall this disc is fascinating in detail and complete as a survey of the ways in which electronic media can extend the possibilities of performance for saxophonists today."