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American Saxophone Quartet: The Commission Project

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The Commission Project has a weighty mission indeed: to break youngsters’ oppressive apathy about serious music by sponsoring composer-in-residence programs in schools around the country. The cover of the first CD of compositions to come out of this endeavor, also titled The Commission Project, reinforces the feeling of heavy lifting with its photo of brawny men struggling with truculent jackhammers. But the four compositions featured here give no evidence of feeling the burden, instead frolicking through jazz, classical and Latin styles fluently and charmingly. It’s as if you signed up for hard labor and found yourself picking wildflowers.

Each of these four works adds a different clarinetist to the American Saxophone Quartet: David Demsey (alto), David Carroll (tenor), Albert Regni (soprano) and Lino Gomez (baritone). While lesser clarinetists could not withstand the unceasing scrutiny, these men bring a thrilling variety and beauty of tone to the task, making the best possible case for these works.

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