Angels We Have Heard On High for Sax Quartet

Almost 10 years ago the Lenoir Saxophone Quartet asked me to write several arrangements of standards for them. They released an album of those arrangements, called High Standards back in 2014. Like many groups, they went dark for a while during the pandemic, but they’ve been ramping back up their rehearsing and performing lately.

With the holidays coming up soon, Lenoir Sax has some Christmas performances already scheduled and they asked me to write another arrangement of some Christmas music for them. Specifically, they asked if I could take a big band arrangement I had written on Angels We Have Heard On High and make it work for sax quartet. Here is a MIDI realization of the final sax quartet arrangement.

As in my big band arrangement of this hymn, I kept the calypso feel and St. Thomas changes. The group requested a short tenor solo and I wrote in a soli section that is based on Sonny Rollins’s solo on St. Thomas from his 1957 album Saxophone Colossus. Since my arrangement in a different key that St. Thomas at that point I did a little tweaking to Rollins’s line, but if you’re familiar with this classic recording I think you’ll recognize it pretty easily.