IMPROVISATION AND THE CONCERT SAXOPHONIST: A SURVEY OF COMPOSITIONAL AND PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUES
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Much of the contemporary concert (i.e. “classical”) saxophone literature has connections to compositional styles found in other genres like jazz, rock, or pop. Although improvisation exists as a dominant compositional device in jazz, improvisation as a performance technique is not confined to a single genre. This study looks at twelve concert saxophone pieces that are grouped into three primary categories of compositional techniques: 1) those containing unmeasured phrases, 2) those containing limited relation to improvisation but a close relationship to jazz styles, and 3) those containing jazz improvisation. In concert saxophone music, specific crossover pieces use the compositional technique of jazz improvisation. Four examples of such jazz works were composed by Dexter Morrill, Phil Woods, Bill Dobbins, and Ramon Ricker, all of which provide a foundation for this study. In addition, pieces containing varying degrees of unmeasured phrases are highlighted. As this dissertation project is based in performance, the twelve pieces were divided into three recitals that summarize a pedagogical sequence. Any concert saxophonist interested in developing jazz improvisational skills can use the pieces in this study as a method to progress toward the performance of pieces that merge jazz improvisation with the concert format. The three compositional techniques examined here will provide the performer with the necessary material to develop this individualized approach to improvisation. Specific compositional and performance techniques vary depending on the stylistic content: this study examines improvisation in the context of concert saxophone repertoire.