Bottom of the Ninth (2014)
saxophone quartet (SATB) and brass quintet
COMMISSION: Manhattan Saxophone Quartet and Uptown Brass
PREMIERE: April 30, 2014, Manhattan Saxophone Quartet and Uptown Brass, Church of the Intercession, New York, NY
CONCERT NOTES: What makes the instrumentation for this piece particularly compelling is that unlike many larger complements which tend to resemble a reduced orchestra, this nonet is instead comprised of two pre-existing standard groups: the saxophone quartet and brass quintet. Bottom of the Ninth serves to make light of the opposition inherent in the juxtaposition of these two ensembles. The quintet begins the piece by presenting a rhythm, which is quickly countered by the saxophones playing a more elaborate rhythm. Not to be outdone, the brass retorts with an even more complex rhythm, and so on. Eventually, the tension can no longer be sustained, and an all-out duel breaks out. This experience reminded me of those old-timey baseball movies, where the audience sees the fans of two evenly matched teams arguing over this great play or that terrible call towards the end of a close game. The piece was commissioned by two NYC-based ensembles: Manhattan Saxophone Quartet and Uptown Brass. And what better captures the spirit of New York than a fiery dispute in the last inning of a baseball game?