I just finished another arrangement for the Lenoir Saxophone Ensemble. This time I wrote a chart on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s classic composition Wave. Here’s a MIDI realization if you’re curious to get an idea what I did with it.
One of the most interesting parts of this tune is the modal mixture of D major and D minor throughout. The beginning of each A section starts in D major, the tonic key of the tune, but each of these A sections ends in D minor. It makes for an interesting sound that I exploited a bit in my intro and “outro.” This sort of modal mixture isn’t typical, but isn’t uncommon. Other jazz standards I can think of that go back and forth between the tonic major and minor include Alone Together and another Jobim composition Triste. I did something similar in one of my own composition for big band, Leaving.
I’ve written a lot of music including saxophones but these arrangements for the Lenoir Saxophone Ensemble are the first time I’ve written pieces that are exclusively for the saxophone quartet. I have to say that it’s been a lot of fun writing for this instrumentation. Not only do you have a very wide range to exploit between the soprano sax and bari sax, but each of the instruments has it’s own timbre and gives you some different colors to exploit. In this arrangement I played around a bit more than in my previous sax quartet arrangements with having different saxes take the lead throughout (you can kind of get an idea of this in the MIDI file, but you have to use your imagination, of course). It’s a tricky way to write, as you have to be careful to not let parts that are playing higher than the lead line get too prominent and overpower the melody. When it works out, though, it can make for a very interesting sound that doesn’t get used often enough, I think.