How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
For saxophone aficionados there is nothing quite as enjoyable as the pure sound of a harmonious reed ensemble. Hearkening to the days when big bands roamed the jazz scene and swing was more synonymous with Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman; the enormous sound of the saxophone quartet was and still is a thing of uniqueness and pleasure. Recent efforts from the World Saxophone, Osland Saxophone, and American Saxophone Quartets have proven and that the artistry is still alive and well. With Take Four Giants Steps the Miami Saxophone Quartet joins the list of current ensembles that deliver horns aplenty.
Each member of the quartet delivers an artistic sound as the singular voices of tenor, alto, soprano, and baritone saxophone are distinctive yet when combined create harmony and balance. The quartet’s open and fervent approach is felt on every composition as each musician performs through complex arrangements with tight interplay.
The scope of MSQ’s repertoire covers a wide range of styles from jazz, classical, and chamber pieces. Highlights include the great saxophonist John Coltrane’s classic jazz piece "Giant Steps" which is uniquely recreated with multiple horn lines and impressive solos. The quartet’s alto member Gary Lindsay pens almost half of the selections: the string accompanied “Waltz for Joshua,” an interesting suite of “Childhood Memories,” and the ragtime antics of “Intoxicated Rag.” The horns are always lush and probing, conveying oneness. Throw in a movement, a few pieces written specifically for the saxophone, and an awe-inspiring rendition of “America the Beautiful” and the path becomes clearer: one that leads to saxophone nirvana.