concert music for student and professional musicians:
Solo Saxophone, unaccompanied
A DAY IN THE CITY 7 Vignettes (1986) for solo saxophone (any) by Howard J. Buss. These colorful musical scenes from the city are excellent study and recital pieces. Each movement is given a title which depicts an occurrence which the composer experienced one day in 1982 during a visit to New York City. The movements are Another Sunrise (based upon an early morning excursion to Central Park to witness the rising of the sun over the buildings); Off to a Busy Day (driving in heavy traffic, zigzagging around to avoid "crazy" drivers); The Lost Key Episode (the composer lost his car keys, but the key of the music is lost too); The Waitin' in Line Blues (an actual blues progression during which the performer alternates between playing with a straight tone and a heavy, obnoxious "corny" vibrato to show frustration at being stuck in a slow-moving line); Romantic Interlude (a beautiful, melodious and flowing waltz); Sudden Storm (getting caught up in a raging thunderstorm); and Out on the Town (has a cheerful Latin feel and breaks into swing as it reaches its climax). "Tonal, charming and imaginative! The low purchase price and the incisive approach of a skilled composer make this a piece worth seeking out.- PMEA News (10) Grade IV.
MIDNIGHT OMEN (1992) for solo sax (any) by Howard J. Buss. This inventive and sparkling composition evokes the mystery and enchantment of the night. Based upon an intriguing 12-tone row, Midnight Omen is characterized by quiet, lyrical sections contrasted with intense and energetic passages. The musical effect is analogous to the nocturnal calm when interrupted by "things that go bump in the night." This is a memorable recital feature . (430) Grade V.
Saxophone with one other
IMPROMPTU (1994) for clarinet (or soprano sax) and marimba by Howard J. Buss is characterized by driving rhythms and ornate melodic lines. The opening motives in both parts undergo almost continuous development throughout the work, often giving the music a spontaneous, improvisatory feel. At times the music has a playful, almost frolicking quality. At other times mysterious and introspective passages contrast with aggressive, intense sections to create an atmosphere of moodiness. The lyrical melodies and interesting timbral contrasts between the instruments, combine with the tonal scheme of the music to make a sophisticated, yet audience-friendly, concert work. Two mallet technique is prominent in the marimba part during the more intricate solo passages and there is some use of three and four mallets in those sections where chordal writing occurs. It is frequently performed on recitals by college students and faculty. A very accessible and enjoyable work. - Percussive Notes. (6) Grade V. B321 $10.00
Impromptu Sound Samples (played on soprano sax): Excerpt 1.mp3 (1MB); Excerpt 2.mp3 (1MB)
MYTHIC QUEST (2000) for flute & soprano sax by Roger C. Vogel. In mythology there are numerous stories of quests. Heroes such as Perseus, Hercules, Theseus, Jason, and others undertook missions of great importance during which they risked their lives, encountered strange creatures, and had many adventures. Mythic Quest seeks to capture the urgency, excitement,, and drama of such an ancient journey. The flute and saxophone, equal partners, pursue each other with animated motives throughout the musical adventure. This exciting work contains three main sections: a fast, vigorous opening gives way to a more relaxed mood before the quest is concluded with a return to an increasingly resolute version of the opening ideas. (10) Grade V. Mythic Quest sound sample: Excerpt.mp3
NOVELLA (1991) for alto sax & piano by Howard J. Buss was written for saxophonist Kenneth Fischer. In creating this work the composer was concerned with how diverse emotions interact with one another when they are juxtaposed and intertwined in a musical context. The emotions expressed in the course of the musical dialogue range from lyric tenderness to intense aggression. The dramatic quality of this music coupled with zesty dance-like sections make this an exciting addition to any program.(720) Grade V. B329 $10.00
Novella Sound Samples:
Excerpt 1.mp3 (1.1MB); Excerpt 2.mp3 (1.1MB); Excerpt 3.mp3 (844KB)
SEEKING ITHACA (2007) for alto sax & piano by Anne M.. Guzzo is an exciting work inspired by the adventures of Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. It is cast in two programmatic movements, Calypso's Gift and Adventure. In the first movement Odysseus is stranded on the Calypso's island, where he becomes enchanted by the beautiful goddess. Calypso is in love with Odysseus, but she makes the decision to let him continue his adventures and find his family again. Musically, the mournful yet proud opening saxophone melody employs both traditional sounds and extended techniques such as key pops and air-tones. This melody, in one form or another, becomes the basis for most of the composition, which is harmonically fleshed out by extended chords in the piano part. A slower second half, marked "Distantly, sadly," recalls motives from the opening section, and creates a sense of loss, signified by the sax's pitchless air-tone at the conclusion. The exciting second movement, Adventures, is inspired by Odysseus' encounter with the Cyclops. This piece is a"must" for the advanced saxophonist! (12') Grade V-VI.
Seeking Ithaca sound samples: Excerpt 1A (1st movement).mp3 (1.2 MB); Excerpt 1B (1st movement).mp3 (1MB);
Excerpt 2A (2nd movement).mp3 (1.1MB); Excerpt 2B (2nd movement).mp3 (1.2MB)
SONATA (1991) for alto sax & piano by Roger C. Vogel is a highly dramatic composition composed for saxophonist Lawrence Gwozdz. It consists of two movements and is cyclical. Following the energetic introduction to the first movement, the animated main theme is used in various transformations throughout the movement.The beginniing of the second movement features a beautiful, flowing melody that undergoes fascinating development. This is followed by a brisk concluding section during which the exciting principal theme of the first movement recurs in alternation with the lyrical opening theme of the second movement. Sonata was premiered by Lawrence Gwozdz, alto saxophone, and Lois Anderson, piano, at Yale University on June 22, 1992.This is a solid addition to the saxophone repertoire and is recommended highly. - The Saxophone Symposium (1030) Grade V.
Sonata Sound Samples: Excerpt, Movement 1.mp3 (1.2MB); Excerpt, Movement 2 (the opening).mp3 (1.1MB)
THREE JAZZICALS (2009) for Bb soprano sax & tuba by Howard J. Buss is dedicated to tubist Jay Hunsberger. This colorful composition is cast in 3 movements - To Bop or Not to Bop, Sounds from the Cool Smoke, and Hotish. The composer states, “ In Three Jazzicals it was not my aim to create a specific hybrid style by synthesizing jazz and modern classical music; rather, my intent was to systematically strip away the fundamental elements of jazz to explore at what point the music ceases being jazz and becomes classical. The style of Three Jazzicals is the resultant this procedure. It is understood that because the subject of what constitutes jazz (there are so many kinds) is so complex, depending upon the background and views of the listener, Three Jazzicals will sound jazzy (in varying degrees) to most, and mostly classical to some.” The instruments employed have been traditionally used in jazz. However, stripped away is the rhythm section; traditional chord progressions; melodic, rhythmic and formal clichés; and improvisation. Among the elements kept is the allowance for personal expression through each player’s tone, inflections, and articulations. The players are specifically asked not to swing at any time. (12’) Grade VI.
DREAM VISIONS for sax quartet (soprano, alto, tenor & baritone) by Scott Jordan is in two movements that are evocative of nighttime inspired moods.The Turning Mind is a colorful chaconne that commences with ominous chords and builds to a brisk climax. Disquietude is up-tempo, fiercely rhythmic, and maintains a state of excitement and suspense throughout. (745) Grade V.
Dream Visions Sound Samples:
Excerpt, Movement 1.mp3 (913K), Excerpt, Movement 2.mp3 (1.1MB)
DRY BONES, the well-known African American spiritual (the foot bone's connected to the leg bone, the leg bone's connected to the...), arranged for sax quartet (soprano, alto, tenor & baritone) by Howard Buss, makes a memorable concert feature as well as a rousing musical offering in church. Multiple players may be used on each part to expand the ensemble. This arrangement is hugely influenced by jazz. The composer wrote an extended two-part introduction which begins hymn-like, and then breaks out in a jubilant jazzy section. This is followed by a more traditional rendering of the spiritual; however, as the music reaches its climax, the jazz "licks" from the introduction are brought back as counterpoint against the main melody of the spiritual. The result is exhilarating, and for a bit of humor, just as the work ends, there is a "tongue-in-cheek" plagal cadence. (230) Grade IV.
ONCE MORE (1996) for sax quartet (soprano, alto, tenor & baritone) by Lee Heritage. This attractive composition is cast in 2 main sections. The first presents the primary espressivo melody accompanied by accented chords, a duet between the tenor and baritone saxophone, and a rhythmically animated passage. The second section gathers momentum as a web of espressivo lines lead to the climax of the work. The quiet conclusion is stated in a pair of brief coda-sections, played "As a whisper." (5) Grade IV.
Once More Sound Sample: Excerpt.mp3 (792KB)
COSMIC PORTRAITS (2009) for flute, clarinet, alto sax & tenor sax by Howard J. Buss consists of three movements inspired by views of objects in the Milky Way galaxy. The titles of the first two movements, The Backbone of Night and The Pale Blue Dot are taken from the writings of the renowned astrophysicist, Carl Sagan. In his book, Cosmos, he describes how the !Kung Bushman in Botswana refer to the Milky Way as “the backbone of night.” The spine of the Milky Way often appears directly over the Kalahari Desert. The !Kung believe it to be the structural foundation of the heavens and that one of its functions in relation to Earth, among many, is that it holds up the darkness.In his book, The Pale Blue Dot, Sagan poetically describes a haunting view of Earth from a distant point in our galaxy. He puts our worldly concerns into cosmic perspective when he refers to all that has ever happened to human beings as occurring “on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” The final movement, Orbitals, suggests celestial bodies revolving around one another in a fascinating cosmic dance. Moons orbiting planets, planets around suns, suns around other suns culminate in the swirling wonder of our galaxy. Cosmic Portraits received its world premier on February 28, 2010 at the Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville by Shelley Binder, flute; Gary Sperl, clarinet; Nathan Keedy, alto sax; and Mark Tucker, tenor sax. (18’10”) Grade VI.
ESCAPADE (1991) for alto sax and 4 percussion by Howard J. Buss.This colorful and inventive composition explores a sequence of emotional states which develop over a talea, a fixed pattern of time values. Except during the extended saxophone cadenza, this repeating rhythmic pattern can be heard throughout the work in varying degrees of intensity. At times it is forcibly presented by the musicians moving in rhythmic unison. On other occasions the talea is fragmented and distributed among the players. Frequently this rhythmic pattern is embedded in the presentation of melodic material similar to the technique of isorhythm as it was employed by 14th-century masters such as Machaut and de Vitry. The continuous variation of the unifying talea coupled with the works intriguing melodies and exotic timbral contrasts, make this an accessible and enjoyable concert work. Percussion distribution: Percussion 1: Timpani (4), temple blocks, snare drum, and 2 suspended cymbals; Percussion 2: Orchestra bells, xylophone, maracas, triangle, 2 cow bells, suspended cymbal, and chime tree; Percussion 3: Vibraphone, tam-tam, roto toms, and claves; Percussion 4: Marimba, guiro, and 2 suspended cymbals. By far the nights most memorable piece. - The Los Angeles Times. (1130) Grade IV-V. B317 $28.50
Escapade Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3 (1.1MB); Excerpt 2.mp3 (1.1MB); Excerpt 3.mp3 (1.2MB)
IN DARKNESS (1989) for high voice (soprano or tenor), alto sax & piano by Roger C. Vogel. In Sophocles tragedy Oidipous Tyrannos the protagonist was separated from his parents at birth. He unwittingly fulfilled a prophesy by killing his father in a quarrel and then marrying his mother when he became king of Thebes. In Darkness is a narrative of the events that took place after the incestuous marriage became known.The text for this musical work was translated and adapted by Timothy Gantz. Although the melodic and harmonic language of this composition is modern, it incorporates some of the flavor of the ancient Grecian melody by deriving important motivic material from the ancient Dorian scale as it was sung in the chromatic genus. Recorded on the OASIS CD Love Letters (ORCV4000), available from Brixton Publications CD-109. This powerful and engaging composition makes a memorable concert feature. (1630) Grade V.
In Darkness Sound Sample: Excerpt.mp3 (971KB)
LULLABY OF THE SEA (2002) for oboe, clarinet, alto sax & bassoon by Robert J. Frank. This charming reed quartet was inspired by the gently undulating waves, shimmering moonlight on the surface, and gentle brezzes of the ocean on a quiet evening in a warm, tropical part of the world. Rolling gestures in the accompaniment compliment the gentle melodic theme, with the occasional call of the seagull. As the work draws to a close, the wind and waves still, lulling the final saxophone melody into blissful sleep. (2’) Grade IV.
NIGHT WINDS (1994) for alto sax and wind quintet (flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon & French horn) by Roger Vogel. This highly dramatic work is suggestive of the dark and somber quality of the themes and textures used throughout. The alto sax has been added to the traditional wind quintet and is treated as an integral member of the group. This composition is cyclic in form and is in a multi-sectional single movement: there are three slow sections that alternate with two faster ones. Night Winds was completed in 1994 and is dedicated to the musicians that premiered it: by Ronald Waln, flute; Dwight Manning, oboe; Theodore Jahn, clarinet; Jean Martin horn; William Davis, bassoon; and Ken Fischer, alto sax. (1230) Grade V. Night Winds Sound Samples: Excerpt 1 (the beginning).mp3 (1.1MB); Excerpt 2.mp3 (1.1MB);
Excerpt 3 (the ending).mp3 (962KB)
TRIBUTE TO KEROUAC for clarinet, tenor sax, piano & string bass by David Alpher was inspired by the work, life, and times of Jack Kerouac, King of the Beat Generation. Cast in seven entertaining movements, this significant composition is hugely influenced by jazz. In the preface to the score the composer writes: "Kerouac demonstrated the epic contradiction of America: on the one hand its wild energy, joy of life, and expansiveness; on the other, its tendency to self-destruct. Tribute to Kerouac is my musical response to, and commemoration of, this important American writer who liked to describe himself as a 'jazz.poet.'" This significant work is recorded on Ongaku Records CD#024-112. (17) Grade V.
Tribute to Kerouac Sound Samples:
I. American Nocturne Sample.mp3 (779K) II. Movin On Sample.mp3 (782K)
III. Remembered Sample.mp3 (982K) IV. Intermezzo Sample.mp3 (693K)
V. Beat Scene Sample.mp3 (996K) VI. Urgency Sample.mp3 (916K)
VII. Epilogue Sample.mp3 (919K)
Music or CDs may only be returned if they are defective.