Motherless Child Variations (2002), Perry Goldstein

"Motherless Child Variations is based on the Spiritual of the same name. I have tried to stay out of the way of the tune and to present it in many guises, always careful to keep it recognizable. After a brief introduction, the melody occurs in six versions, in various characters. It is introduced in a somber duet between baritone and tenor saxes, alto and soprano then joining in for a bluesier four-part version. After a spirited, mixed-meter interlude, the tune returns in a new and funkier manifestation, led by the baritone saxophone playing a repetitive bass line, as well as a chorale version in which an unexpected harmonization unfolds in the instruments' highest registers. A subsequent gloss on the melody interpolates driving compound meter passages between piecemeal statements of the tune, in emulation of the "call and response" music so typical of the African American tradition. The harmonic structure implied by the melody supplies the backbone for three ensuing jazz swing choruses, alto, tenor, and soprano saxes soloing successively over the chord changes. The tune then resurfaces explicitly in one last straightforward and passionate rendition. Motherless Child Variations lasts approximately ten minutes." — Perry Goldstein