The Fuego Quartet, featuring saxophonists Nicki Roman, Erik Elmgren, Harrison Clarke, and Gabriel Piqué, makes their Ravello Records debut with the innovative MIGRATION, a collection that demonstrates the versatility and complexity of the saxophone as it migrates through genre boundaries.
The album kicks off with Recitation Book, a set of five pieces by composer David Maslanka that transform Bach chorales, madrigals, Gregorian chants, and more into various forms and structures. These arrangements, as performed by the Fuego Quartet, bring listeners into a calm listening sphere that reflects the music of the past in the midst of our busy, technology-saturated world. This set leads into William Albright’s Fantasy Etudes, the more loosely-formed, jazzy arrangements by the late 20th-century composer. Standing as a threshold in the middle of the album, Fantasy Etudes welcomes listeners away from familiar audial experiences into the realm of the slightly less familiar, more experimental sounds.
Albright’s compositions make for the perfect lead into Ornithology S, the work of contemporary composer Clay Mettens that is inspired by visual artist Juan Fontanive’s flipbooks of the same name. The saxophones recreate the sounds of birds singing as they fly, as well as using key clicks and slaps to imitate the turning of the mechanical book. Bringing the visual pieces to life while also showing the sonic possibilities of the saxophone, Ornithology S is a stunning conclusion to this fascinating collection.
The saxophone has had a unique history as a classical instrument, from its challenges entering into that particular sphere to its welcoming in via jazz and rock music. With MIGRATION, Fuego Quartet demonstrates all that is possible with the saxophone, showing how it transcends musical boundaries with ease.