For: Solo Alto & Tenor Saxophones (improvising),
Fl, Cl, Bn, Hn, Tpt, Tbn, Piano, 2 Perc
Duration: 14 minutes

Colours was commissioned by the Varèse Ensemble and first performed by them at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1983. The idea behind the work was to explore the relationship between improvised material and fixed, fully notated material. The soloists were chosen because three members of the ensemble, myself on Alto, Dai Pritchard on Tenor and Nick Ormrod on Percussion were experienced improvisors. All the performers begin by playing fully notated material, but the soloists are given a gradually freer rôle culminating with a section of completely free cadenzas before a return to the opening material.

In 1985, Colours was choreographed by Maxine Braham for a production at the Place Theatre of the London School of Contemporary Dance.


I liked it, [Colours] it kept its improvisation within clearly perceived limits.
Paul Driver.