Quoting Augusta Read Thomas on jazz influences in her work
and on her personal term: "CAPTURED IMPROVISATION":
"My favorite moment in any piece of music is that of maximum risk and striving. Whether the venture is tiny or large, loud or soft, fragile or strong, passionate, erratic, or eccentric — the moment of exquisite humanity and raw soul!"
"All art that I cherish has elements of order, mystery, love, recklessness, and desperation. For me, music must be alive and jump off the page and out of the instrument as if something big is at stake."
"It is clear, in all my works, that I have been listening to jazz for 35 years. I am not a composer of "cross-over" jazz pieces- rather, there is a deeply integrated and digested sense related to jazz harmonies, flexibility, spontaneity, and flow which can be sensed. I am certainly not implying that I am a Jazz artist, nor anything of the sort."
"Although highly notated, precise, carefully structured, soundly proportioned, and while musicians are elegantly working from a nuanced, specific text, I like my music to have the feeling that it is organically being self-propelled - on the spot. As if we listeners are overhearing a captured improvisation. My music, which is organic and, at every level, concerned with transformations and connections, should be played so that the inner life of the different rhythmic, timbral and pitch syntaxes are made explicit and are then organically allied to one another with characterized phrasing of rhythm, color, harmony, counterpoint, tempo, keeping it alive — continuously sounding spontaneous. All of this, hopefully, working toward the fundamental goal: to compose a work in which every musical parameter is allied in one holistic gestalt.”
Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post
[on DANCING HELIX RITUALS]
"The standout piece was Augusta Read Thomas's Dancing Helix Rituals from 2006. It's a dance, certainly — but a wild, driving, exhilarating dance that hurtled out of the gate and built into a riot of jazzy rhythms and colorful gestures. Like all good rituals, it was intoxicating — and the trio brought it off with a fine, eloquent frenzy."
Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News
[on HELIOS CHOROS I]
"...a logical connection: Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Helios Choros I is a brightly scored, and made much of jazzy figures."
Alan Rich, Los Angeles Weekly
[on CANTICLE WEAVING]
"Some of the concerto teeters on the edge of jazziness, and does so quite nicely."
Clarence Fanto, The Berkshire Eagle
"Scat employs some gestures and elements typical of jazz, but comes across as a free-form, propulsive chamber work infused with tightly-coiled energy. The Walden performers successfully captured the improvisational spirit of the eight-minute work. Thomas has created a fascinating piece that honors the jazz tradition while avoiding imitative "crossover" techniques. Scat is well worth additional hearings."
John von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune
"...bits of Bartok, Webern and Messiaen here, a quasi-jazz riff there."