The saxophone is probably the one musical instrument that we most associate with this thing we call jazz, yet it is perhaps the last instrument that comes to mind when we think of classical music. The Osland Saxophone Quartet bridges the gap between those genres, playing a repertoire of rich classical jazz in groupings of suites and movements on the double-CD Commission: Impossible.
Miles Osland, the leader of OSQ, is a professor of saxophone and the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Kentucky (UK). He formed OSQ as a chamber ensemble and enlisted the help of his wife, Lisa Parent Osland (a tenor saxophone player and also an educator at UK), plus Jonathan Anderson (alto) and Larry Nelson (baritone), to comprise a distinguished reed section.
On this recording, Osland also plays with members the UK Mega-Sax Alumni Quartet and tapes several tracks with the UK Wind Ensemble, under the direction of John Cody Birdwell. Most of the music is played without the traditional rhythm section in the background, adding to the unique flavor of the disc. Drummer Jason Tiemann appears on only three selections on the second CD, while percussionist Julie Hill is heard on only three tracks on the first. The majority of the music just features the four different saxophones in a montage of sounds pronounced by the distinct textures and styles of each instrument.
Commission: Impossible provides a unique musical setting for the instrument we are accustomed hearing on lead/solo in much of the music we listen to. Here however, the saxophone appears as part of a musical team with each instrument sharing the lead role. Miles Osland has developed an original classical jazz sound with OSQ, surpassed only by the quality of the group's performance.
Track Listing: Cityscope; Four Minitures From Brazil; Concerto for Alto Saxophone & Wind Orchestra;
MOSAX Overdrive for Saxofonqvartett; Diffusions for Saxophone Quartet; Reconciliation Suite;
Saxophone Quartet#2; 1000 Bars of Blue; Kentucky Roastup.
Personnel: All tracks Miles Osland (except CD1:7-9), Doug Drewek (CD1:1-6), Jan Levander (CD1:
10-16), Pual Haar (CD2:1-6), Todd Tucker (CD2:5,6), Jeremy Long (CD2:5,6,7-9), Joe
Carucci (CD2:10-15), Jonathan Anderson (CD2:16): alto saxophone; Lisa Parent Osland:
tenor saxophone (except CD1:7-9); Larry Nelson: baritone saxophone (except CD1:7-9);
University of Kentucky Wind Ensemble (CD1:7-9); Jeremy Long, Todd Tucker: soprano
saxophone (CD2:5,6); Julie Hill: percussion (CD1:3,4,6); Jason Tiemann: drums (CD2:7-9).