David Tanner studied at the Berklee College of Music and the University of Toronto, where he was saxophone instructor through the 1980’s and 90’s. He toured Canada and the USA with the rock band Lighthouse in the 1970’s. He performed in orchestras including the Toronto Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, National Ballet, Canadian Opera Company and numerous others. He also played every genre of music from jazz to Broadway on stage or in the pit in most of the major venues in Toronto and the surrounding area. His compositions and arrangements can be heard on Navona Records: Of Birds and Lemons and Dashing!




Marc Widner was a professor of piano at Brock and Sherbrooke universities. He performs frequently around the greater Toronto area.


Walter Piston, in his 1955 textbook Orchestration, says of the saxophone, “Its tone has become, coincident with its ascendancy in the field of popular dance music, tremulous, oversweet. sentimental; and it is almost invariably played out of tune. The saxophone as it is played today cannot be used successfully in instrumental combinations...” Claude Debussy referred to it as “that aquatic instrument.”


So much for the saxophone in “classical” music!


What could it be about the saxophone that gave such great offence to such venerable musicians? The same flexibility that distinguishes it as the most voice-like, the most colourful, the most powerfully expressive of wind instruments, also makes it capable of whinnying and braying with an unmatchable assertiveness. While many flutists and clarinetists sound much alike, every mature saxophonist sounds unique – and while a bad flutist or clarinetist sounds dull and ordinary, a bad saxophonist sounds horrible.


Many of the very greatest and most creative jazz musicians have chosen the saxophone for their voice precisely because it whoops and brays, and sings, so remarkably well. Jazz saxophonists happily exploit the instrument’s rough edges to add a new dimension to their playing. The challenge for the “classical” saxophonist is to play with refinement on an instrument so willing to soar away on flights of vulgarity, yet still make it sound like a saxophone.


This collection presents the saxophone, speaking eloquently in a rich variety of musical languages.

Photo by Sara Tanner



Navona Records offers listeners a fresh taste of today's leading innovators in orchestral, chamber, instrumental, and experimental music as well as prime pieces of classic repertoire. Our music is meticulously performed by the finest musicians and handpicked to ensure the most rewarding listening experience.



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