LHI Live: The Park Street Saxophone Quartet

Sep 24, 2015

The Park Street Sax Quartet: L to R, Dave Saunders, Sandra Shaw, Mark Greer, and Dave McCourry
Credit C. Lieurance

The saxophone may be a relative newcomer to the world of orchestral instruments, but it's gained ground fast in the 150+ years since it was invented. Today's saxophonists are expected to be fluent in European and American classical music, pop, jazz, and all related sub-genres. 

That's one of the joys of playing in a saxophone quartet. The sky's-the-limit playlist turns each rehearsal into an exploration of different styles and techniques. That's one of the main reasons saxophonists Mark Greer, Sandra Shaw, Dave Saunders, and Gary McCourry decided to form the Park Street Saxophone Quartet.

Not that they didn't already have enough on their plates. Most of the members already play in the Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra, one of west Michigan's most respected big bands. Greer recently retired after almost twenty years as a music educator in Mattawan schools; Shaw, a graduate of Western Michigan University, is likewise a music educator and currently leads Kalamazoo Public Schools orchestral programs. Saunders and McCourry, a WMU grad, both received post-graduate degrees in music from Indiana University. Saunders recently relocated to west Michigan from Minnesota, where he was a college music instructor. Gary McCourry became an alto and soprano saxophonist of the West Point Concert Band for the U.S. Army, and later became a baritone saxophonist for West Point's Jazz Knights.  

In this studio session at WMUK, the Park Street Saxophone Quartet plays a variety of pieces that demonstrate the wide open world of saxophone music, and the members discuss the instrument itself -  is it a brass instrument? A woodwind? It would seem that inventor Adolphe Sax considered his creation to be a perfect instrument for all occasions.