Marc Baron, Bertand Denzler, Jean-Luc Guionnet, Stephane Rives: Propagations (2007)
Now, this combination of tenor, two altos and soprano (together for three years, although this is their recording debut) takes a truly radical approach, an approach more compatible with improv methodology than with that of a big-band horn section or a four-part vocal harmony group. So, there are no ensemble riffs, no interweaving melody lines, and no call-and-responsein fact, none of the standard sax quartet vocabulary. Andjust as refreshinglythey aren't called The (Blah-Blah) Saxophone Quartet either; they are just identified by their names.
Instead, across three tracks varying in length from ten to just over seventeen minutes (a total time of forty-one minutes), the saxophones predominantly play long-sustained notes or make subtle noises with the instruments' pads without blowing. The combined effect often sounds more like a combination of resonating electronics and percussion than four saxophones.
The final track starts out with the players in a rather more garrulous mood, but not until late in the piece do they remotely approach familiar sax quartet territory, when all four blow together, producing a righteous blast of sound. But it is short lived, followed by a period of guilty silence, as if they have to atone for the outburst. These four almost willfully seem to be avoiding well-trodden pathways, thumbing their noses at them and, hence, at cliches of the genre. Admirable.
Track Listing: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.
Personnel: Marc Baron: alto saxophone; Bertrand Denzier: tenor saxophone; Jean-Lug Guionnet: alto saxophone; Stephane Rives: soprano saxophone.
Record Label: Potlatch Records