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Thrascher To Perform Saturday

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —  If you don’t know the saxophone quartet Thrascher, it’s not because the ensemble hasn’t tried.

Thrascher only performs a few times a year. That’s because the four musicians live in different parts of the country and they all have fulltime jobs.

How scattered are they?

Well, Glenn Kostur, who plays baritone saxophone in the quartet, directs jazz studies at the University of New Mexico.

Edward Petersen, who plays tenor sax, is coordinator of jazz studies at the University of New Orleans.

Tim Ishii, who’s on alto sax, is music department chair at Texas Wesleyan University.

And Randy Hamm, associate professor of saxophone and jazz studies at Southwest Missouri State, is on soprano sax.

Thrascher will come together Saturday, Feb. 21 for a concert at the African American Performing Arts Center in Albuquerque. It will share the stage with the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra.

“We four primarily work in the jazz idiom but there are elements of what we do that would be considered ‘new music,’ or contemporary chamber music,” Kostur said.

“That’s one of the things that we find satisfying about the group.”

As a result, he said, some music it plays fits in a straightforward jazz niche while other music contains free improvsation.

But all of the compositions Thrascher plays is original music, that is everything is written by its members.

For Saturday night’s concert, Kostur said, the orchestra will play a few tunes on its own from its repertoire, then the quartet and the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra will perform some numbers arranged by the quartet and the second half will be all Thrascher.

“For a big finish, we’ll do one or two more pieces with the big band,” he said.

The name Thrascher is a play on words on the surname of an important 20th century classical saxophone teacher, Kostur said. The teacher’s name was Sigurd Rascher.

The one time during each year that Thrascher’s musicians converge is in the summer where they teach at the same jazz camp.

In fact, the four had met at a jazz camp at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater in 1997.

At that camp, they were hanging out and Petersen mentioned he had written a couple of saxophone quartet pieces.

Kostur recalled: “He asked me and the other two guys if we’d read together some of these quartet things. We did. Then Ed said, ‘Why don’t we play this piece and as we finish it let’s improvise’… We had a whole ton of fun doing that.”

The next spring the four got together to judge at a high school saxophone festival in Fossil Ridge, Texas. That’s where they also debuted as a performing quartet.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21
WHERE: African American Performing Arts Center, Expo New Mexico. Enter through gate at San Pedro and Copper NE
HOW MUCH: $25 general public, $20 New Mexico Jazz Workshop members, $15 students and $30 Gold Circle at the Web site, or call 255-9798 or at the door