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Lenoir Sax | High Standards

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High Standards

by Lenoir Sax

Vintage flavored chamber jazz inspired by the Hollywood Saxophone Quartet with some of the best modern songs arranged by composer/arranger David Wilken.
Genre: Jazz: Chamber Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Just Friends
3:46 $0.99
2. Hello, Young Lovers
3:45 $0.99
3. Caravan
3:28 $0.99
4. Body and Soul
3:44 $0.99
5. Honey Pie
3:09 $0.99
6. Songbird (Thank You for Your Lovely Song)
3:59 $0.99
7. Autumn Leaves
3:53 $0.99
8. Wave
3:57 $0.99
9. Pure Imagination
3:58 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Dave Wilken comments on his arrangements in the liner notes listed below. These sax quartets were commissioned by Lenoir Sax and are available from http://www.wilktone.com.

Just Friends
While Just Friends is a tune that most jazz musicians are probably already familiar with, it is very interesting harmonically. Most notably, the tonic chord of the tune really doesn’t get strongly cadenced until almost the very end of the tune. It does, however, show up in the 5th measure, but approaches it from an interesting direction. Since my arrangement is in the key of C major, my example is in that key.

Notice that the first chord is the IV, which then becomes a minor iv, leading to what would be a ii-V in a different key. Instead of resolving to Eb major, this chord pattern resolves to the I chord. So what does this progression have to do with a plagal cadence?

If you’re not already familiar with the plagal cadence by name, you’ve probably heard it many times at the end of church hymns on the text, “Amen.” A plagal cadence is simply IV-I, in the key of C it is F to C. It’s a very common chord pattern in jazz, but the Just Friends example is modified in an interesting way. In order to fully understand how Bb7 to Cmaj7 can be called a plagal cadence we need to consider a variation of the plagal cadence in a minor key and also some typical jazz chord substitutions.

First, a minor plagal cadence is exactly like one in a major key, except that both chords are minor, iv-i. Staying in the key of my example, F minor to C minor. Add a little modal mixing into it and we can use an F minor chord and resolve it to a major chord, iv-I. But what about the Bb7 between these two chords?

Getting back to a minor plagal cadence, moving from Fmin to Cmaj7 can be thought of as a an example of mixing the minor mode (iv) with major (I). Following the substitution example I just mentioned, we can consider the iv chord as if it were a ii in Eb and insert the Bb7 between for a little added harmonic movement.

While not as common as simply ii-V7-I progressions, this minor plagal cadence (and its variations) are very frequent in jazz standards. They are definitely worth becoming familiar with as improvisers and composers as it will add another interesting sound into your palate to draw from.

Hello, Young Lovers
This arrangement is a tune from The King and I, Hello Young Lovers.
For this arrangement the members of the Lenoir Saxophone Ensemble requested the dedication be “For Morrie Crawford & the Hollywood Saxophone Quartet.” The Hollywood Saxophone Quartet was one of the inspirations for this project I’m collaborating with the Lenoir Saxophone Ensemble on.

I have to admit that prior to beginning work on these arrangements I was not familiar with the Hollywood Saxophone Quartet. The HSQ was active around Los Angeles from about 1950 to 1970 and made up of four studio woodwind musicians, including Morrie Crawford, who played tenor sax with the group. One of the composers/arrangers who wrote exclusively for the HSQ, Warren Barker, retired to nearby Greenville, SC before passing away in 2006.

No notes were given.

Body and Soul
No notes were given.

Honey Pie
With every arrangement I’ve written for them I’ve tried to give each one it’s own unique feel or hook to set it apart from the rest. This one was easy in that respect. I left the old-timey feel from the Beatles recording in there and pretty much stuck to the same form and harmonies, just scored out for the saxophones. The members of the Lenoir Saxophone Ensemble told me they usually perform one novelty-type piece on every performance and when they listed this tune as one of the possible charts to write I figured it would fit that bill pretty well.

Songbird (Thank You for Your Lovely Song)
I wasn’t familiar with the tune or the composer before being asked to write an arrangement of it. It’s really a beautiful tune, and has several interesting features.

The bridge is different in that it’s only 4 measures long, a little unusual but not unheard of. The opening chords for the A sections I found really fun to play with. Moving from D7#9 to EbMaj7 is an unusual progression with very colorful melody notes (F natural to G over those two chords).

Autumn Leaves
This time I wrote a chart on the standard Autumn Leaves. In order to give this chart a different flavor from the previous ones I’ve written for the Lenoir Saxophone Ensemble I decided to play around with a voicing technique that Gil Evans, one of my favorite composer/arrangers, used frequently. Evans was fond of voicing out chords in such a way that would put at least two parts together a second apart. In my arrangement I used this idea throughout. Here’s one example, which can be heard in my arrangement just at the end of the rubato opening.

Normally I wouldn’t put a half step between the top two voices like this, as it obscures the sound of the highest pitch a bit. In this particular case, however, it works pretty well because the melody is in the bari sax. With this particular chord voicing the major 7th between the bari and tenor also help give it a dissonant grinding quality.

Antonio Carlos Jobim’s classic composition Wave. One of the most interesting parts of this tune is the modal mixture of D major and D minor throughout. The beginning of each A section starts in D major, the tonic key of the tune, but each of these A sections ends in D minor. It makes for an interesting sound that I exploited a bit in my intro and “outro.” This sort of modal mixture isn’t typical, but isn’t uncommon. Other jazz standards I can think of that go back and forth between the tonic major and minor include Alone Together and another Jobim composition Triste. I did something similar in one of my own composition for big band, Leaving.

I’ve written a lot of music including saxophones but these arrangements for the Lenoir Saxophone Ensemble are the first time I’ve written pieces that are exclusively for the saxophone quartet. I have to say that it’s been a lot of fun writing for this instrumentation. Not only do you have a very wide range to exploit between the soprano sax and bari sax, but each of the instruments has it’s own timbre and gives you some different colors to exploit. In this arrangement I played around a bit more than in my previous sax quartet arrangements with having different saxes take the lead throughout It’s a tricky way to write, as you have to be careful to not let parts that are playing higher than the lead line get too prominent and overpower the melody. When it works out, though, it can make for a very interesting sound that doesn’t get used often enough, I think.

Pure Imagination
This particular one is on a tune by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, written for the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

For all these sax quartet arrangements I’ve tried to explore something a little different to give each one something unique to set it off from the rest (beyond just a different tune). In this chart I experimented with changing meters around and an unusual metric modulation between the different feels. It starts off with a rubato introduction based on the bridge and then a faster swing feeling. The metric modulation between the faster passages (usually in 5/4) and the slower (4/4) passages is 3:2. The quarter notes of the faster 5/4 is equal to the quarter note triples of the slower 4/4 measures. It reads a little trickier than it sounds, I think. At times I even explicitly incorporate the quarter note triplet to become the quarter note as the tempo changes in order to make the transitions a little more obvious.



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