Saxophone Quartet (SATB)
Skunktown Beanery is written for soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones and begins with a jaunty rhythmic interplay with the baritone pitted against the three other voices. The interplay continues when the soprano breaks away (m. 23) to play an infectious melody which seems to float over the others. This culminates with the ensemble driving like a well-oiled big band (m. 39). There is a return to the soprano melody juxtaposed over the rhythmic interplay of the others (m. 56) which develops rhythmically, leading to an improvised jazz solo in the soprano.
The solo is modal, visiting five different tonal areas until returning to the original D7#9. The other voices provide rhythmic and harmonic accompaniment throughout. After an improvised soprano cadenza (m. 139) there is a recapitulation section followed by a short coda (m. 196) to end the piece.
This piece very much hinges on the soprano player’s ability to improvise, as well as the baritone player’s ability to play with great rhythmic accuracy and to be able to drive the ensemble in much the same way a bass player does a jazz ensemble.
Skunktown Beanery is the first movement of “The Blastinoff Concerto” for saxophone quartet. There are five movements in the “Concerto” with several movements utilizing non-traditional combinations of saxophones.
The piece lends itself well to a contemporary jazz feel.