Sam Newsome, Thursday, December 19, 7:30pm, Wistariahurst Museum, Holyoke


Sam Newsome, soprano saxophone, effects. Wistariahurst Musuem, 238 Cabot St., Holyoke, MA. Single tickets ($15) are available at and at the door.

New York-based saxophonist and composer Sam Newsome works primarily in the medium of solo saxophone, an approach for which he gained world-wide critical acclaim with his 2009 recording, Blue Soliloquy: Solo Works for Soprano Saxophone, which received a five-star review in Downbeat magazine. “Newsome expands the sound of a single soprano into a one-man band,” writes Mark Corroto.

Many of the notes and sounds that comprise his compositions and improvisations are derived from his own personal sound palette of extended techniques: multi-phonics, flutter tonguing, percussive slap tonguing, soprano saxophone specific micro-tones, air sounds, key clicks, air hisses, acoustic sound manipulation, Tartini tones, and various forms of oral cavity manipulation. Newsome sees himself more along the lines of a visual artist who paints with notes and sounds rather than shapes and colors.

“Newsome cuts around the edges of the soprano’s fundamentally sweet sound to mimic double-reed instruments from the Middle East, the native singing of Mongolia, bamboo flutes from the Orient,” says Nick DeRiso.

Newsome has released six critically acclaimed solo saxophone CDs including Sopranoville: Works for Prepared and Non-Prepared Saxophone (2017); The Straight Horn of Africa (2014); The Solo Concert: Sam Newsome Plays Monk and Ellington (2013); and The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1 (2012). Ed Enright called The Straight Horn of Africa, “a modern masterpiece.”

In addition to his solo work, Newsome leads a trio with Hilliard Greene and Reggie Nicholson, and is also a frequent collaborator with drummer Andrew Cyrille, vocalist Fay Victor, saxophonist David Liebman, and pianists Ethan Iverson and Jean-Michel Pilc.

In 2018 Newsome received the New Music USA Grant and The Alpert/Ragdale Prize in Music Composition. He is an associate professor of music at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University.