for saxophone quartet

Provenance was written for the Northern Saxophone Quartet’s performance at the World Saxophone Congress in Bangkok, 2009.


Continuing the composer’s Chamber-Jazz tradition, Provenance is an exploration of energy and passion using the language of jazz in a tightly constructed ‘classical’ three-movement form.


Movement I, Energico, opens with an aggressive swing from which the baritone emerges to develop its ideas, only to disappear into a dizzying swirl of accompaniment as a bed for the soprano. In the aftermath of vertigo, the soprano and then the alto flit, float and fall to nothing as they prepare the way for baritone and tenor evocations and an alto improvisation. Sense and purpose are reclaimed by soprano and tenor ahead of a recapitulation and dramatic close.


Movement II, Appassionato, is at first lost in the beauty of introspection. In the hesitations and reflections, time ebbs and flows as a heartbeat. Darkness and frivolity lurk; eventually all else giving way. Mayhem is crafted from harmonics and multiphonic explorations, whilst baritone’s flashes of showmanship struggle to be heard.


Movement III, Samba, segued from the previous madness, sees the quartet, led by the alto, establish spirit, purpose and dance. Soprano leads the song, endlessly evolving despite its endless challenges. With dominance established, it embarks on a long, ever-burning improvisation, clawing ever closer to the climactic, still and unequivocal fortissimo. Personalities re-establish themselves through the fugue, before the dance delights again and leaves its legacy.


Tony Davis


Saxophone quartet (SATB)




c. 11’15”



Suitable for

Professional or under-graduate recital programme

Extended techniques

Multiphonics; jazz improvisation for alto and soprano



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