Classical Christmas

December 19, 2011

When you listen closely — literally, sitting in front of speakers or on headphones — the classical Washington Saxophone Quartet sounds like just what it is: four woodwind instruments, covering baritone, tenor, alto and soprano.

But I mostly listened to the WSQ’s lovely new CD, “Tis the Season,” at a distance — over a traditional stereo, in a 20-foot-by-30-foot room with a high ceiling. In that open environment, the saxophones took on string-quartet characteristics because the group’s legato phrasing is so buttery smooth.

Reginald Jackson, James Steele, Rich Kleinfeldt and Rick Parrell have been performing together in this chamber-sax setting since 1976, so it’s no surprise that all 26 tracks on the album — from “The Holly and the Ivy” to “Nutcracker Suite” — are well-oiled perfection.

Local label Americus put out “Tis the Season,” which is available now at Politics and Prose in D.C. and Foxes Music in Falls Church. Alas, it won’t be on iTunes until after the holidays, but a CD played on a nice stereo is the best way to experience the full sonic spectrum of “Tis Season,” anyhow.

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Vicky Hallett | December 16, 2011