"Excellent young saxophone quartets and clarinet quartets abound in the country now, but there has never before been a permanent quartet which has brought woodwind doubling to such a high standard, especially with the addition of flute and piccolo, as A Good Reed".......SImon Box - Clarinet & Saxophone Magazine (the official journal of the Clarinet & Saxophone Society of Great Britain) 2006

"The four girls in the quartet are all versatile doublers, so much so that most members of the audience could not distinguish which instruments were their principal studies. Needless to say they gave a faultless première performance which delighted the composer who was also hearing it complete for the first time."........Susan Moss - Clarinet & Saxophone Magazine (the official journal of the Clarinet & Saxophone Society of Great Britain) 2006

A Good Reed have performed many prestigious recitals and were featured as part of Paul Harvey's 70th Birthday Concert in 2005. They have performed for the Hamilton Arts Guild in Scotland and most recently for the Cranmore School 'Live' series. Please read the reviews below.

Paul Harvey has written several pieces especially for the group- including children's stories such as 'The 333 Little Pigs & The Big Bad Crocodile' and a piece for 'doubling' quartet entitled 'Permutations'. A huge bulk of their repertoire is also cleverly arranged by John Whelan (listen to Isn't She Lovely on sound clips page). A selection of his arrangements are available to purchase from www.reedimensions.com

We are dedicated to giving exciting and innovative recitals and enjoy entertaining audiences. Please see below for a sample programme for a recital:

Lighter Programme

Bolero arr. by Nigel Wood - Newsreel by James Rae - Permutations by Paul Harvey - Four Ebony by Jeffrey Wilson - INTERVAL - Mission Impossible arr. by John Wasson - Shetland Sequence trad. arr. by Jan Steele - Sway arr. by John Whelan - Downtown arr. by John Whelan - Isn''t She Lovely arr. by John Whelan - Come Fly With Me arr. by John Whelan - Under the Veil by Nigel Wood

Programme suitable for Festivals/ Music Clubs

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel, trans. by Jean-Yves Formeau - Rhapsody In Blue by Gershwin, arr by Nigel Wood - Selections from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, arr. by Morland - Come Fly With Me by J. Van Heusen, arr. by John Whelan - The Right Time by Karen Street - Memories of Glen Miller arr. by John Whelan - INTERVAL - Italian Medley arr. by James 'Red' McLeod - Four Ebony by Jeffery J. Wilson - A Gershwin Suite arr. by John Whelan - City Scenes by T. Thompson - Robert Burns Suite by Paul Harvey


Latest Review:

Review of Cranmore Live Recital - Saturday 4th March 2006 - CASS Magazine


Anna O'Brien (soprano sax, clarinet, flute, piccolo), Elspeth Cook (alto and soprano sax, clarinet, flute), Natasha Cuevas (tenor sax, Eb/Bb/bass clarinet, flute, piccolo), Andrea Morris (baritone sax, Bb and bass clarinet, flute, piccolo) with guest narrator Paul Harvey

Cranmore School, West Horsley, Surrey March 4, 2006

On a bitterly cold evening in March the hottest spot in Surrey was the smart modern concert hall of Cranmore School, near Guildford. Head of Music, Richard Harris introduced the four girls of A Good Reed to a sizeable audience.

The first two items were both in standard saxophone quartet format; Nigel Wood's clever arrangement of Ravel's Bolero makes an excellent starter as it gradually builds up over the baritone's relentless ostinato. Newsreel, a new piece by James Rae, is a brilliant evocation of the halcyon days of the British Movietone News style of composition.

Then Natasha Cuevas introduced their special guest Paul Harvey, co-founder and leader of the London Saxophone Quartet (1969-1985) and now a prolific composer. Paul talked about the nine types of woodwind instruments the girls were about to play and then introduced Permutations which he composed especially for them last year. It is a suite of seven movements, the first six each for a different combination and the longer finale a resume of all the doubles at which they excel. Excellent young saxophone quartets and clarinet
quartets abound in the country now, but this work demonstrates that
there has never before been a permanent quartet which has brought
woodwind doubling to such a high standard, especially with the addition
of flute and piccolo, as A Good Reed.

Then Paul directed and narrated his latest story for children, The 333 Little Pigs and the Big Bad Crocodile. This is a sequel to the well-known story of The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, concerning the numerous descendants of the original three protagonists. A group of boys from Cranmore Choir, trained by Ilse Fourie, joined Paul and the quartet as singing piglets, and to help with various porcine grunts and squeals.

The second half started with two spectacular arrangements: Lalo Schifrin's Mission Impossible arranged by John Wasson and Shetland Sequence arranged by Jan Steele. Dream A Little Dream Of Me was tastefully arranged by Anna O'Brien, the quartet's soprano player, followed by four excellent
arrangements by John Whelan; Sway, Downtown, Isn't She Lovely, and Come
Fly With Me.

The programme ended with Nigel Wood's composition Under The Veil. This is a really impressive evocation of Middle Eastern ambience in which the girls double various exotic percussion instruments. It would have been a wonderful piece for Katherine Spencer and her troupe of belly-dancers from the Royal Academy of Music to have wiggled their stuff to! Alas, I suppose we will never see their like again! Never mind, A Good Reed is certainly good enough for me!

Simon Box
Clarinet & Saxophone Magazine Summer 2006 Volume 31 Number 2



Review of Paul Harvey's 70th Birthday Concert featured in the Clarinet & Saxophone Magazine June 2005

A capacity audience filled the Barn Church in Kew in early June for a concert to celebrate Paul Harvey’s 70th birthday. Paul heralded the concert in “Hold the Back Page!” in the Spring 2005 issue of Clarinet & Saxophone and the decision to hold the concert in the afternoon paid off as old friends and colleagues travelled from far and wide to listen to Paul’s music being played by his ex-pupils and new friends.

I went round to see Paul on his actual birthday, 14th June, to chat about the concert and he was wearing a red and grey striped tie which was a gift from an ex-pupil Nigel Hinson, but this was no ordinary tie as it had belonged to Artie Shaw and Nigel had bid for it when the Shaw estate was auctioned off. Paul was practising the Artie Shaw Clarinet Concerto, hoping that wearing Artie’s tie would help him to play it better.

The concert kicked off with a Fanfare for the Big Seven-O played by Paul and Ian Haysted, accompanied by A Good Reed quartet then Paul read out a “telegram” from HM The Queen which so amused me that I quote it here in full:
From the Office of the Lord Chamberlain, Buckingham Palace, “Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to convey her thanks to Mr Harvey and his colleagues for their message of goodwill and loyalty on the occasion of the Sovereign’s Official Birthday, which she has shared with Mr Harvey for many years. Her Majesty regrets that she is unable to attend the concert in person, owing to her annual gig on Horse Guards Parade. She has, however, every confidence that Messrs Harvey and Haysted will carry out their duties as efficiently as she has observed them, during different eras in the past, negotiating the Spinwheel with the Massed Bands of the Foot Guards during the Trooping of the Colour.” Signed – Lord Chamberlain, Duke Ellington & Count Basie.

Ian Haysted studied with Paul at Kneller Hall and although they lost touch with each other for a while, they are now firm friends and Paul often writes music for Ian to play. One such piece is Salt Lake Symbiosis, written for the 2003 ICA Clarinetfest in Salt Lake City. Paul wrote the piece, then Ian added the cadenzas and special effects such as quartertones and multiphonics – a truly symbiotic relationship! Ian gave a splendid performance finishing on a top C, and accompanied by piano and A Good Reed on clarinets although Paul plans to make an arrangement of the accompaniment for strings.

A Good Reed also featured in Clarinet & Saxophone recently and the varied instrumentation in Permutations was described there. The four girls in the quartet are all versatile doublers, so much so that most members of the audience could not distinguish which instruments were their principal studies. Needless to say they gave a faultless première performance which delighted the composer who was also hearing it complete for the first time.

Southwold Sonatina was the only piece on the programme not composed by Paul Harvey. It was written by James Rae who is very fond of the Suffolk town of Southwold. Rae’s name (together with Mr Harvey’s) is so well known to single reed teachers for his first rate teaching material and it was good to hear a more substantial work from him, performed by Ian Haysted on clarinet. The three movements were titled Sole Bay, Harbour Reflections, and Off To The Nelson! James Rae has also written a Sonatina for alto saxophone, premièred by Paul Summers in June, and a tenor saxophone Sonatina is also about to be composed.

Paul’s daughter, Paulina, introduced the last piece in the first half – one of Paul’s musical stories written for schools’ concerts when he led the London Saxophone Quartet. (For more background on the LSQ read Paul Harvey’s Bandroom Jottings.) The story concerns Hippolyte Saxopotamus whose invention, the contrabass hippophone, is to be presented to the Emperor. Paul narrated (in a slightly dodgy French accent), A Good Reed, on saxes, supplied the musical interludes and a small girls’ choir, consisting of Paulina and pupils and ex-pupils of Paul’s, sang the Saxopotamus Song. Then we all went and had a glass of wine.

Among the highlights in the second half was Puerto Rico Suite, written when Paul was a regular visitor to Puerto Rico, based on Puerto Rican folk tunes. Paul and Ian joined A Good Reed on alto and E flat clarinet respectively.

This was a useful warm-up for Paul’s solo of the afternoon, one of his contest solos written for an annual competition at Kneller Hall. The piece exploits both the lyrical qualities of the alto clarinet and the full range of the instrument. A version for basset horn and piano will soon be available. I’m sure if George Bernard Shaw could have heard this piece he would not have said, “The devil himself could not make the basset horn sparkle”. The alto clarinet has served Paul well in the past when American publishers chose to record their wind band catalogues in Great Britain. The clarinet section for a session would typically include Jack Brymer, Ted Planas, Paul and Stephen Trier and although the first pieces were from the very easy end of the catalogue, the music got considerably more challenging as the week went on.

A light-hearted song called My Boyfriend Plays The Clarinet showed the considerable versatility of the newest member of A Good Reed, Laura Parker. She sang about her boyfriend’s constant practising and gave him an ultimatum, “either the clarinet goes or I go!” but all is happily resolved by her taking up the clarinet too, and so they can now play duets (cue quotation from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet).

And next, the noisiest item on the programme, Concert Für Dudelsack K.621.5 attributed to McMozart. James Rae took up the bagpipes last December and it sounded as though he’s been trying hard to play K622 on them ever since. It wasn’t quite what Mozart wrote but with bits of Amazing Grace, Auld Lang Syne and Happy Birthday thrown in, it made for a hilarious few minutes.

And so to the finale. For the 2003 ICA Clarinetfest Paul wrote a musical version of Three Billy Goats Gruff with lots of “in” clarinet jokes and he thought that another children’s story with a clarinet take on it would go down well at the Birthday Concert, so Kloséchops and the Three Berrs was born. Goldilocks is a fanatical clarinet player, nicknamed Kloséchops, and of course, when she comes upon the house of the Berr family she tries out their bass clarinet, a very good quality B flat and an E flat clarinet. She ends up being invited to form a quartet with the Bears, sorry Berrs. Again Paul narrated, A Good Reed played and accompanied the Saxopotamus Babes. Paul regards these musical stories as the most important works he has written and he has evidence of their influence on young audiences who have been inspired to take up the clarinet or the saxophone as a result of hearing a performance of one of the stories.

After the concert, some of the audience, with Paul of course, adjourned to a hostelry on Kew Green and Paul was able to catch up with old friends such as his schoolfriend Peter Fisher who had travelled from Cambridge. Peter is a year older than Paul and they often played duets at school. Paul attributes his good sight-reading skills to Peter’s insistence on those regular duet sessions.

Looking back on his career, the B flat contrabass clarinet has also brought Paul some interesting work including the film scores of Rambo and Total Recall, and on the Beatles’ album Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Among the many faces on the cover is that of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Paul is directly responsible for that. A chance conversation with Paul McCartney about Paul’s part on contrabass in Gruppen at the Proms that summer led to the composer’s inclusion on the album cover.

I asked Paul what compositions are in the pipeline in the near future and straightaway he said, “More Christmas carols!”. The arrangements he made last year have proved very popular and have left pupils and teachers wanting more. Paul has also written a piece for the First World Bass Clarinet Convention in Rotterdam in October. It’s in twelve parts and an open air performance is planned, weather permitting. Another project involves the West Point Clarinet Quartet, and a piece for them to play at the 2006 ICA Clarinetfest is a distinct possibility.

As I was leaving, I mentioned to Paul that I was playing in My Fair Lady that week, and I learnt that Paul had played in the original production in 1960 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane which starred Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. The pay was a princely £19 per week and when it became London’s longest running musical, champagne arrived from Alan J Lerner with the message, “We have beaten Chu Chin Chow!”. Inevitably with a long running show, boredom can be a problem and Paul and Keith Deacon’s way of solving it was to swap shows with Ted Planas and John Denman who were playing in The Sound of Music down the road. After a few nights of that, they were glad to get back to My Fair Lady.

The 70th Birthday Concert was a lovely idea and a huge success. The programme was so varied and the playing first class, and it was not so much like a formal concert than like spending an afternoon with friends. It is hoped that a CD of the concert will be produced and be available for sale very soon. I’m sure I overheard someone encouraging Paul to start planning his 80th Birthday Concert!

Susan Moss

Clarinet & Saxophone Magazine (the official journal of the Clarinet & Saxophone Society of Great Britain)

Bandroom Jottings (£10) available from Paul Harvey 020 8898 4869
Saxopotamus from Reynard Music reynard@argonet.co.uk
All other music referred to in this article is available from Reedimensions