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New Composition 'Ballade' (Eb or Bb sax & piano)

(July 30, 2011)

In May this year I began working on a new piece that I have simply entitled 'Ballade'. It came about after learning a few new pieces in a smooth jazz type genre. One of my favourites is Dave McGarry's 'Dreams of you' (published by Saxtet publications; Do you ever find yourself sort of 'addicted' to a piece? Well this piece did it for me! Even though the piano part is quite challenging (for me at least!) I estimate it being around grade 7, a kind of madness enveloped me, so desperate was I to feel and hear those wonderful sounds beneath my fingers! I actually only played the saxophone part once or twice, and whilst the melody is everything any saxophonist could want, it was the piano accompaniment (and all the resulting lush harmonies) that had me enchanted.

'Ballade' therefore was born partly as a result of the new sounds I had been soaking myself in, but also, as I often write better with a focus in mind, I decided to write the piece as a small birthday surprise for Alistair Parnell (Nottingham saxophonist/Pianist. ).

Unusually (for me), the melody actually appeared first (it actually woke me up in May, so fervent scribbling ensued at 3am in the morning!). It was just an 8 bar theme, but more than enough to start the ball rolling. I considered it a good sign that the piece seemed to construct itself; I'm always happiest when composition just literally tumbles out. If ever I am having to work hard at it I usually stop and return to it another day! A new day and fresh eyes/ears can be quite revealing!

'Ballade' was finished around 3 weeks after the first concept and in time for the birthday thank goodness. It is unashamedly sentimental, littered with lip slurrs and smooth jazz articulation. Please note the grace notes/lip slurrs ARE optional; my suggestion is that you omit a few. My recording has them all present and by all means go for it if you wish!

Estimated grade is around grade 7 and it's now available to order as sheet music; (either 'hard copy'; printed book; score for Eb sax/pno, pull out Eb/Bb universal sax part, and seperate pull out Bb accompaniment piano part, CD featuring Eb demo track, plus backing tracks for both Eb and Bb versions. Also available as PDF / MP3 Email edition where all the parts and MP3 tracks are zapped across via email at considerably reduced price!).

Click the following link to hear myself (on Alto saxophone) and Alistair Parnell (on piano, and the birthday boy!) performing 'Ballade';

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