Jadar was commissioned by saxophonist, Jade Gall and part of her brief was: “I have a goal one day to record my own classical saxophone album and to have one track on there that I commissioned. I wanted something for the tenor saxophone that had a nod to baroque but with a hint of mystery and fantasy”. I’m not sure I adhered closely enough to the brief, as the piece evolved with more of a tango-esque vibe than I originally intended. The main thing is, Jade said she absolutely loved it which ultimately fulfilled my aim.
My approach to writing a new piece varies, but normally I envisage lots of rich harmonies and plenty of interplay between the ensemble voices. Without the usual comfort of chords to support a melody, there is a strange nakedness to the writing process as the harmonic progression is imagined or inferred rather than actually heard - a kind of virtual harmony? I allowed the solo line to flow naturally but didn’t have a precise chordal map in mind. This was the first time I’d ever composed like this, as usually I’d at least work something out on the piano or jot chord symbols down at some point. As with most of my works, I like to create arrangements for other formats, so it wasn’t long before I decided to create a clarinet ensemble version of Jadar. I then had to figure out what my actual harmonic intentions were in order to create parts, as if composing in reverse order. The process made me realise my original harmonic intentions were slightly ambiguous. It might be interesting for someone unfamiliar with the piece, to play the solo version first, then listen to the sax quartet version to see if what you imagined correlates.