Broken Reed Saxophone Quartet


Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 10:32 AM


Charley Gerard started the The Broken Reed Saxophone Quartet in 2002. A composer, saxophonist and music author with a degree in ethnomusicology from Columbia, Charley Gerard lives jazz. He is the author of several books on Latin music and jazz, including Salsa: Rhythm of Latin Music (White Cliffs Media, 1998); Jazz in Black and White (Praeger, 2001), which Booklist describes as an “excellent study” that highlights “the complex role of race in jazz,” and Kirkus calls a “refreshing change from recent polemics” “with an admirable evenhandedness” providing “an intelligent discussion of a loaded issue” “with integrity and thoughtfulness”; and Music from Cuba: Mongo Santamaria, Chocolate Armenteros, and Other Stateside Cuban Musicians (Praeger, 2001) that Choice Magazine deems “a useful addition to a growing list of books devoted to Latin music emanating from Cuba and Puerto Rico....the book will be a great resource for enthusiasts.” Gerard possesses a rare collection of talents not often seen together. Versatile and virtuosic in his playing and composition, Gerard has a way of coaxing the beautiful from the unexpected. With his diverse influences—from jazz and swing to Latin and classical—and his liberal tapping of the imagination, his arrangements are thoughtful and exuberant and his performances are as formally impeccable as they are playful. They say great texts play with one another and the same holds true for music; the humor in some of his more serious pieces highlights their earnestness and this lively weight renders them achingly alive. You have only to hear his Four Seasons, Four Saxes, New Four-Casts, re-creation of the Vivaldi classic to know that you are in the presence of a musical master. He has been lauded by the Washington Post for his “humor and crossover composing skill,” “chops and range” and the “ingratiating,” “lived-in feeling” of his music” and by for his “muted, yet powerful tone and special attention toward phrasing and accent structure.” Dance Magazine dubbed his music “brilliant” and has described his arrangements as “superb.” Gerard fuses fun listening with dissonant sound. He is even good at the elusive, imprecise science of improvisation, while maintaining a strong sense of control when playing his arrangements. His headier music often functions as a mosaic—artistically assembled bits of sound strung together by his expert composing and perceptive performances from the BRSQ group members. Together, they transport their audience everywhere, from New Orleans jazz clubs and the swinging sixties, to the Baroque period and the pages of poetry and popular culture. As its name implies, the group is as linked by its sense of humor as it is by its unique sound. BRSQ has been described by Dr. Sherrie Maricle, the Leader of the Diva Jazz Orchestra and the Director of Education for the New York Pops Orchestra, as “one of the most unique, innovative music ensembles I’ve heard in recent years. Their arrangements are both original and exciting, encompassing all of the relevant emotions of music, from the subtle to the explosive.”