BLUE EMBERS is a bright, quirky work scored for soprano saxophone, flute (doubling piccolo), and piano. This piece was a particular joy to compose, as I focused most of my attention on the aspects of music that I find most exhilarating: fast-paced, zany rhythms and highly active (but tightly controlled) textures.
It should be noted that the piece is full of jazz-inspired musical elements. I have what can admittedly be described as an anachronistic love of fusion (smooth) jazz, and the particular combination of instruments I utilize here seemed to inspire the easygoing harmonies and perky rhythms so abundant in that medium; I was particularly influenced by artists such as Dave Grusin, Pat Metheny, David Benoit, the Yellowjackets, and Maria Schneider.
Although BLUE EMBERS is often very rhythmically busy, at no time does the tempo increase or decrease rapidly; instead, a propulsive groove pervades, driving the music along at a leisurely pace.
In this ten-minute showpiece for concert band, the listener will be taken on a nonstop, ever-changing journey through a shimmering, cosmopolitan world. The vast majority of the piece is based off just two compositional elements—a bright, whimsical melody and an angular ostinato figure. These two motivic ideas return again and again, though they are constantly portrayed in different contexts—often they are bold and bright, while at other times cool and mellow.
—Jules Pegram (2012)