An Introduction to the Saxophone Quartet

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Nathan Hassall's Java Saxophone Quartet performing at a garden party in north London, in May 2018.
The Java Saxophone Quartet, performing in 2018

Ensemble playing of any nature is one of the great joys of music making. There is something uniquely special about working as a collective whole to create something of beauty (or, something that swings your socks off!) in the concert environment, or just for fun!

The saxophone quartet is arguably the most similar ensemble to that of a string quartet, with it’s blendable combination of soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. However, it is an ensemble that is often wrongly overlooked by classical music composers and enthusiasts.

There is an abundance of repertoire out there that is a complete joy to play and listen to, ranging from the traditional French classical music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, through to contemporary minimalism and beyond.

Whilst not hugely popular as a vehicle for jazz (even though the saxophone quartet is very similar to that of a big band sax section), there are some excellent examples of jazz saxophone quartets professionally (eg. Itchy Fingers and the World Saxophone Quartet), and countless arrangements of jazz standards, perfect for both amateur and more advanced level saxophonists.

As this great ensemble isn’t well known (even amongst fellow saxophonists) I thought it would be beneficial to put this playlist together of great contemporary or classic saxophone quartet music. I hope you enjoy it!

Notable Saxophone Quartets

Interested in seeing a saxophone quartet perform in concert, or just want to find out more? Here are links to some of the top saxophone quartets at the leading edge of the chamber music scene today. All are well worth checking out and supporting: –

I hope you have enjoyed this post and enjoyed listening to some of the great music featured in the playlist above.

If you would like to find out more about the saxophone quartet, or ensemble playing of any nature please do get in touch. Making music is one of the great joys of life, let’s do it together!

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