Saxophone Recital with Piano Accompaniment

Jeffery Wilson – Saxophone  … Jane Sitch – Piano

Wednesday 8 January 1 pm


On 8th January at Brentwood Cathedral, and in the intimate setting of the Song School, we were delighted to welcome our first lunchtime recital performers of 2020. Jeffery Wilson (saxophone) and Jane Sitch (piano) played to a warm audience of both regular and new listeners on this fresh winter’s day in Essex.


Amy Quate Light of Sothis
Colin Cowles Of Spain
Andy Scott And everything is still
Jeffery Wilson Silver Sonatina
Dave McGarry Dreams of you
Phil Woods Sonata for Alto Sax and Piano

     (1st movement)

Jeffery Wilson Arioso
Pedro Iturralde Pequeňa Czarda

Acclaimed and respected for his many saxophone performances and recitals, Jeffery Wilson is an established composer in both Classical and Jazz genres, inspiring numerous musicians of all ages. Now one of this country’s foremost composers and educators, he studied composition at the Royal College of Music with John Lambert and Herbert Howells, and later with Aladar Majorossy, Gordon Jacob and Olivier Messiaen. Until recently, he was visiting professor in composition, improvisation and saxophone at the Utrecht Conservatorium. He is professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Junior School, supervisor on the music faculty of Cambridge University and advisor on matters of jazz and saxophone for Trinity Guildhall exams.

Jeffery introduced all his pieces today in an informative and delightfully relaxed manner, beginning with ‘Light of Sothis’ by Amy Quate (b. 1953), who composes in a variety of musical styles. Written in 1982 and depicting the brightest star in the sky (now called ‘Sirius’), the interpretation of the intended sacred illumination was conveyed sensitively through Jeffery’s warm woodwind tones on the alto saxophone.

We then heard ‘Of Spain’ on the tenor saxophone, by Colin Cowles (b. 1940), giving us changing emotions and rhythms, delivered in equal measures by saxophone and piano. We were also occasionally reminded, through melodic woodwind phrasing, of an art deco period.

Jeffery continued with ‘And everything is still’ on tenor saxophone by award-winning composer and saxophonist Andy Scott (b. 1966), commissioned by the Royal Northern College of Music and premiered in 2008 – a reflective piece with peaceful yet colourful tones and a lilting melody, over a steady piano beat.

We then heard the first of the two pieces written by Jeffery Wilson, played on the soprano saxophone. This was ‘Silver Sonatina’, composed for a couple’s silver wedding anniversary.

It is in three movements of varying styles: 1. Improvisation, lyrical and enigmatic. 2. Romanza, a fuller movement, using the sax’s mid-range. 3. Rondo, a presto in 6/8 including ¾ bars, with short passages moving into the altissimo range, and concluding a romantic musical journey. This was followed by a piece by the American composer Dave McGarry (Leeds Music College graduate), now a freelance pianist in demand for jazz events in the UK. On the alto saxophone, McGarry’s ‘Dreams of you’ was indeed dreamy, mesmerising and extremely comforting on this cool January day.

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Continuing with the same alto instrument, Jeffery played the first movement for saxophone and piano by the American Jazz composer, saxophonist and bandleader Phil Woods (1931-2015). There were many jazz idioms to absorb here, with a creative attitude from Woods and the performer, especially in improvisation, all performed beautifully and assertively by Jeffery and his very supportive accompanist, Jane Sitch.

Jeffery introduced his own second piece, ‘Arioso’ on soprano saxophone, which ‘went viral’ on the internet and is on the graded exam list for saxophone. With its haunting, heartfelt sentiments and momentary baroque effects, its popularity was hardly surprising, played with modesty and tenderness by the composer. Jeffery was later asked which of the saxophone instruments he preferred playing, and said that it was whichever instrument he is playing at the time!

The final work was ‘Pequena Czarda’ by Pedro Iturralde (b. 1929), Spanish saxophonist, teacher and composer, who studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid, where he later taught from 1978 until his retirement in 1994. He combines flamenco with jazz, heard in this passionate and popular piece, with its beautifully delivered and lively themes in the opening section. After a refreshing piano passage, we heard a poignant saxophone cadenza and then both instruments uniting in an exhilarating climax, closing the recital with loud applause! We then had a further opportunity to show our appreciation over refreshments in the Song School.

We are grateful to Nina How for organising these very special recitals at the Cathedral and for publicising every occasion. On behalf of Nina and our Director of Music, Andrew Wright, we thank Jeffery Wilson and Jane Sitch for a most inspiring programme and for sharing their musical talents with us today. We look forward to seeing and hearing them again soon at Brentwood Cathedral.

Julia Bentham

recitalAdmission is free, but there will be a retiring collection to help to fund these recitals. If you are able to use Gift Aid this will increase the value of your donation by 25% at no extra cost to you

Photos – Graham Hillman

Brentwood Cathedral Music Dept©2023