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Radio ›› Unison Rituals
Unison Rituals
Unison Rituals (1991), 12m34s [excerpt]
Track 1 from Unison Rituals
CD: Ambiances Magnétiques (2003) AM 110

Unison Rituals is Tim Brady’s second release on Ambiances Magnétiques, and features five highly original chamber works for saxophone and ensemble which point to the increasing trend among new music ensembles to play music coming from a wide range of performance traditions, bridging the gap between musique actuelle and contemporary chamber works. Though Brady is perhaps best known for his virtuoso solo guitar works, as documented on the 2002 Ambiance magnétique release Twenty Quartet Inch Jacks (Am 107), he is also a chamber and orchestral composer of great imagaination and these five compostions show the scope of his musical vision.

The title track is a powerful work for saxophone quartet. Brady’s at times obsessive use of unison melodic material (Unison Rituals) is a central element of this work, given a stunning performance by the Quasar saxophone quartet. The work is also unique in that the quartet actually plays a total of six saxophones during the course of the composition. The opening of the piece uses 2 tenor saxophones, plus alto and baritone, the central section uses the traditional soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, and the ending explores the colour of 2 soprano saxophones playing in unison against the deeper resonances the of alto and baritone.

The next three performance are by Bradyworks, the composer’s own chamber ensemble. Double Helix is a quartet for saxophone (soprano, alto and baritone), combined with piano, percussion and cello and features complex ensemble playing and interlocking rhythmic counterpoint. Two Chords Less Than a Blues features solos for each of the performers on tenor saxophone, piano and percussion. The work’s title refers to the fact that the piece explores two very simple harmonic ideas - a 4-note cluster and the Cminor7 chord - spinning out elaborte textural and melodic ideas from two very primary musical ideas.

Escapement is a quartet with Brady playing scordatura guitar. For this composition, the guitar is tuned to a differnet set of notes than usual, giving the work a distinctive harmonic colour. The final work on the CD is Sound Off, Brady’s 1983 outdoor performance piece for 100 wind instruments and 8 bass drums, done here in a studio version, using multi-track overdubbing to create an ensemble of 45 winds and 3 bass drums. The work moves from complex textures to simple unison drones to jazz-influenced ensemble counterpoint, creating a striking 12 and a half minute CD-version of Brady’s original 45-minute outdoor extravaganza.

Liner Notes

Track Listing

Total duration: 64m04s