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Bebop Riddle IV for Reed Quintet (2023)

For Oboe, Clarinet in Bb, Alto Saxophone in Eb, Bass Clarinet in Bb, Bassoon

First performance by the Akropolis Reed Quintet on 4 February 2024 at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.
Commissioned by Akropolis Reed Quintet with generous support from Dick Niemi.
Duration: 8 minutes and 30 seconds

Informal reference recording is available for private listening. If you would like to review the recording please Contact Augusta Read Thomas.


It is possible for Flute, Clarinet, or Soprano Saxophone to play the Oboe line.
It is possible for Alto Saxophone to play the Clarinet line.
It is possible for Clarinet to play the Alto Saxophone line (low concert Db’s will have to be moved up one octave for Clarinet)
It is possible for Bassoon or Baritone Saxophone to play the Bass Clarinet line. (low concert Bb’s will have to be moved up one octave for Baritone Saxophone)
It is possible for Bass Clarinet or Baritone Saxophone to play the Bassoon line (low concert Bb’s will have to be moved up one octave for Baritone Saxophone)

For these options/versions, 9 additional transposed instrumental parts are included in the publishers set of SCORE AND PARTS. They are labeled as, for example: “Flute playing Oboe Line” or “Alto Saxophone playing Clarinet Line” or “Baritone Saxophone playing Bassoon Line”. These 9 parts are in addition to the 5 main parts: Oboe, Clarinet in Bb, Alto Saxophone in Eb, Bass Clarinet in Bb, Bassoon.

One could mix and match these instrumental substitution options, thereby making this composition’s instrumentation tremendously flexible. For example, one mix-and match option would be a Saxophone Quintet, another might be Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, and Baritone Saxophone.


Program Note

Thomas’ imagination for BEBOP RIDDLE IV was inspired by the vibrant, dazzling technique, flair, spirit for adventure, and musicality of the Akropolis Reed Quintet. When composing, playing, and hearing BEBOP RIDDLE IV the virtuosity, flexibility, and energy of superstar jazz artists leaps to ear and mind. These forces, when intersected with other specific musical perfumes, formulate a unique sonic palette. Thomas said, “I love how music talks with music.” Imagine the pointillistic intricacy and contrapuntal, conversational, interlocking-lines of J.S. Bach’s keyboard music crisscrossed with Bill-Evans-and-Thelonious-Monk-like harmonies, then further overlapped with the energy of bebop’s fast tempo, rapid chord changes, mood shifts, rhythmic invention, and instrumental flair. Thomas braids these auras (there are no musical quotes in the composition) into a personal, nuanced amalgam that captures the spirit of improvisation, at turns whimsical, soulful, vivacious, reflective, and animated. Thomas said, “There is a lifeforce when one musician speaks in music with another. Even if from time to time one musician is silent, there is still an animated spirit and energy.” She writes on her score, “Full of spirit; Enthusiastic inner-lifefor each note, line, and hocket.” This refined composition is an 8-minute and 20 second conversation between wind players as well as a conversation between composer and some of her musical idols. Thomas is composing a series of “Bebop Riddles” all of which are completely independent, unique works. Bebop Riddle IV was made possible with generous support from Dick Niemi. Dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Akropolis Reed Quintet and Dick Niemi.

Akropolis Reed Quintet. Photo Credit Jason Walker.

To obtain examination or performance material for this
Augusta Read Thomas work, please contact Nimbus Music Publishing.