Terry Jennings’ extraordinary 1960 composition Piece for Cello and Saxophone is finally receiving a proper release, thanks to the Los Angeles label Saltern.
The work was arranged in just intonation by the great La Monte Young, and performed by cellist Charles Curtis. (Despite its title, the composition does not feature saxophone.) Sometimes referred to as pure intonation, just intonation involves musical intervals tuned as whole-number frequency ratios.
Curtis’ performance was recorded in 2016. His interpretation of Jennings’ minimalist vision is the result of “more than 25 years of dedication to the piece,” according to the notes that accompany the new release.
It is inspired, in exactly the kind of understated manner that an important work like this deserves. Give yourself over to the full 85-minute recording and you will find the cello’s vibrations resonating inside of you.
Jennings passed in his early 40s after working closely with La Monte Young, Terry Riley and other early minimalists. While younger greats like Harold Budd have pointed to this piece as an important influence, it has received far too little recognition before now. The same must be said of Jennings himself.
Saltern is planning a double-vinyl package in addition to the digital download. Both are set for release on July 1.