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January 14, 2015
More Information:
Aleba Gartner, 212/206-1450
Steve McPherson
To receive a review copy of Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1
(compact disc or digital link)
please email
“Unexpectedly gorgeous” — DownBeat 
“Astonishingly beautiful” — New York Classical Review

PRISM Quartet

announces its first album of 2015:

Volume 1


The culmination of a massive commissioning project
with six jazz saxophone luminaries:



Street Date: January 27, 2015 on innova Recordings

Listen to Preview Playlist
Read Album Booklet

Read more:
Constantly in search of new musical terrain, the PRISM Quartet (Timothy McAllister, Taimur Sullivan, Matthew Levy, and Zachary Shemon)—“one of America’s finest saxophone quartets for three decades” (The New Yorker)—celebrates its 30th anniversary with a groundbreaking recording: Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1.

This 2-CD set features world premiere recordings of new works—all commissioned by the classical PRISM Quartet—composed and performed by six jazz saxophonists who defy convention: Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Tim Ries, Miguel Zenón, Dave Liebman and Greg Osby. Each sax player performs his piece alongside PRISM. 

This recording is the culmination of a live performance cycle this past spring in which these new compositions were debuted over a three month span at Symphony Space in New York City and World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. 

The live Heritage/Evolution performances received raves. "PRISM’s technical brilliance was on vivid display," wrote Downbeat magazine. NYC Jazz Record stated: “The sheer beauty of the saxophones’ collective sound, sweet and virtually without vibrato, is incredible, demonstrating an aesthetic in many ways closer to that of a classical string quartet than that of a jazz sax section." The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that "The audience, even amid the most brain-twisting repertoire, seemed spellbound."

Appending “Volume 1” to the title is a statement of intent: this is not a one-time project, but the first step in a major new initiative by the PRISM Quartet, who since their founding have sought to redefine the sax medium through unprecedented collaborations and commissions. Volume 2 concerts begin in June 2015 with composer/saxophonists Ravi Coltrane and Chris Potter

“Every musical instrument tells many stories,” explains PRISM co-founder, executive director and tenor saxophonist Matthew Levy. “In Heritage/Evolution, the saxophone takes center stage; its fascinating dual history in classical music and jazz leads PRISM and our guest artists through a collaborative process of discovery.”

Heritage/Evolution is dedicated to the memory of Michael Whitcombe (1962-2013), PRISM’s founding alto saxophonist whose artistry and vision shaped the quartet for over 20 years.
“Liebman and Osby’s world premieres were substantial statements, and the contrast between their jazz phrasing and the more classical style and sound of PRISM revealed ideas and colors that commingled with deep sympathy.”
— New York Classical Review

“How better to celebrate three decades of saxophone virtuosity than with more saxophones?...Both [Liebman and Osby's] compositions were surprising for anyone who’s followed the two artists’ careers.”
DownBeat Magazine


A preview playlist with sample of tracks from Heritage/Evolution Volume 1.
To receive a complete review copy in CD or digital link format,
please email


PRISM's video playlists featuring live performances, rehearsal footage,
and interviews with all six Heritage/Evolution composers talking about their compositions.

The Collaborators

Steve Lehman


Described as “one of the transforming figures of early 21st century jazz” by The Guardian (UK) and as “a quietly dazzling saxophonist” by The New York Times, Fulbright scholar Steve Lehman is the first composer to integrate jazz and Spectral music, a form of classical music in which the physics of sound inform compositional decisions. His 2009 recording, Travail, Transformation & Flow was chosen as the #1 Jazz Album of the year by The New York Times.

Rudresh Mahanthappa


Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of today’s most innovative jazz composers and performers, fusing jazz and the culture of his Indian ancestry to break new musical ground. Downbeat’s alto saxophonist of the year for the past three years, he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the coveted Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. He leads several groups, including Samdhi and the Indo-Pak Coalition, and has collaborated with Bunky Green, Jack DeJohnette, and Kadri Gopalnath.

Miguel Zenón


Multiple Grammy nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón is widely considered one of the most influential saxophonists of his generation. He studied classical saxophone in his native Puerto Rico before developing a unique voice as a composer/conceptualist whose work blends Latin American folkloric music and jazz. A founding member of the acclaimed SF JAZZ Collective, he has released six recordings as a leader including the Grammy nominated Alma Adentro (2011).

Tim Ries


Hailed by The New York Times as “a singular talent, a player’s player,” Tim Ries is a versatile and thoughtful saxophonist and composer whose collaborators have included Phil Woods, Tom Harrell, Al Foster, John Patitucci, Danilo Perez, Red Garland, Badal Roy, Maria Schneider, Chris Potter, Donald Byrd, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and Sheryl Crow. A former member of PRISM (1993–2001), he has released eight recordings as a leader, and currently tours with Jack DeJohnette and the Rolling Stones.

Greg Osby


Saxophonist, composer, producer, educator, and 2013 Pew Fellow Greg Osby has made an indelible mark on contemporary jazz over the past 20 years. Described by The New York Times as “a pacesetter” who composes work that is “intricately coiled,” he has performed with Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Jack DeJohnette, and Andrew Hill and released 15 solo recordings on Blue Note before founding his own Inner Circle label, a platform for today’s brightest artists.

Dave Liebman


David Liebman’s career has spanned over four decades, beginning in the 1970s as the saxophonist/flautist of both the Elvin Jones and Miles Davis groups, and continuing as a leader of his own ensembles, including Quest and Saxophone Summit. Downbeat’s 2011 soprano saxophonist of the year, he is an NEA Master of Jazz whose discography of nearly 350 records “defines unpredictability, incorporating his fascination with the worlds of jazz, rock, ethnic and contemporary classical music” (The Washington Post).

PRISM Quartet

Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. Two-time winners of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, PRISM has been presented by Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and as soloists with the Detroit Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra. Champions of new music, PRISM has commissioned over 150 works, many by internationally celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning composers. PRISM’s discography includes eleven recordings for the Albany, Innova, Koch, Naxos, New Dynamic, and New Focus labels. PRISM may also be heard on the soundtrack of the film “Two Plus One” and has been featured in the theme music to the weekly PBS news magazine “NOW.” PRISM performs exclusively on Selmer saxophones and mouthpieces.

PRISM in the Press

“An eminent classical saxophone quartet with an unquenchable thirst for intrigue and adventure."
— Time Out New York

“the gentle, reedy beauty of the playing was beguiling.”
— The New York Times

“Pioneering achievements of the highest order.” 
— Chamber Music

“The quartet performs with lovely nuanced phrasing, beautifully modulated dynamics and timbral shadings, and a sparkling clarity of articulation.”
— Classical Magazine

“PRISM provided an enticing program of recent music ...
carefully constructed ... particularly accessible and satisfying ...
remarkable examples of virtuosity”
— Los Angeles Times

“Four skilled performers with buoyant musical personalities.
The performers moved effortlessly between styles.” 
— The Philadelphia Inquirer

“This unusual group is determined to make the saxophone quartet a legitimate concert-hall fixture. And it may very well do just that.”
— New York Magazine
Major support for Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1 has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Presser Foundation, and the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia.
For further information, press tickets, photos, and to arrange interviews,
please contact Aleba & Co. at 212/206-1450 or

Copyright © 2015 PRISM Quartet, Inc., All rights reserved.

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