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Pivotal Arc

by Quinsin Nachoff

  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    High quality, 180 gram, 12" LP - comes with download code containing the digital album in multiple formats

    Includes unlimited streaming of Pivotal Arc via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 5 days
    edition of 300 
    Purchasable with gift card

      $9 USD or more 


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    High quality, 6 panel digifile with a velvety soft-touch laminate finish and 12-page booklet

    Includes unlimited streaming of Pivotal Arc via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 5 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      $2.50 USD or more 


  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Comes with album artwork booklet PDF + album cover photo as a jpg
    Purchasable with gift card

      $10 USD  or more


Pivotal Arc 15:01



Nathalie Bonin - violin soloist
Molinari String Quartet:
Olga Ranzenhofer - violin I
Antoine Bareil - violin II
Frédéric Lambert - viola
Pierre - Alain Bouvrette - cello

Quinsin Nachoff - tenor saxophone

JC Sanford - conductor 
Michael Davidson - vibraphone
Mark Helias - bass
Satoshi Takeishi - drums, percussion
Jean-Pierre Zanella - piccolo, flute, clarinet, soprano sax
Yvan Belleau - clarinet, tenor saxophone
Brent Besner - bass clarinet
Jocelyn Couture - trumpet I
Bill Mahar - trumpet II
David Grott - trombone
Bob Ellis - bass trombone


Recorded at Studios Piccolo, Montreal, Canada
Recording Engineer - David Travers Smith
Assistant Engineer - Patrice Pruneau
Edited, Mixed and Mastered by David Travers Smith
Produced by Quinsin Nachoff, David Travers-Smith
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch 
Photography by Udo Prinsen 
Album Layout & Design by Lee Hutzulak


released August 7, 2020


Saxophonist and composer Quinsin Nachoff’s career to date has delivered a boundary-crossing body of work that’s consistently unpredictable, fearlessly innovative, breathtakingly accomplished, and full of creative passion, constantly increasing its scope to encompass ever greater horizons. His new album Pivotal Arc presents his most ambitious project yet: bringing together virtuoso violin soloist Nathalie Bonin with a jazz-inflected unit comprising two established giants of the NY scene, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Satoshi Takeishi, and the stunning young vibraphone player Michael Davidson, and adding a wind and string ensemble conducted by JC Sanford for a concerto that boldly mixes written and improvised sections. A contemporary string quartet performed by the renowned Molinari String Quartet and the extended title piece round out the album. The result is three diverse long-form works that flow naturally together, demonstrating Nachoff’s equally heartfelt facility with the free-flowing language of jazz improvisation, the depth and rigour of classical composition and the direct melodicism of folk forms.

The three-part violin concerto is built around Nachoff’s long-standing creative partnership with Nathalie Bonin and showcases her extraordinary range and versatility. “Nathalie’s drive is very intense, her musical interests are really diverse, and she dives into whatever challenge and works at it until she masters it!”

The first movement is an imaginary deconstructed and reconstructed Tango that sets the tone, intensity and sound palette for the entire work. After the improvised violin solo, the orchestra ferociously returns with nearly a concerto for orchestra section that gradually winds down to a dream-like cadenza, setting up the second movement. “I love Astor Piazolla and I’d heard Nathalie improvise brilliantly in that setting - Stravinsky also looms large and Weill and Ligeti were very inspiring as well, but the tango was the main focus, twisted and deconstructed in different ways”

The second movement is a haunting ballad that sweeps through several tonal landscapes “Where Berg meets Ellington!”

A gorgeous improvised violin solo leads into both a written and improvised cadenza that connects to the final movement. It is Balkan-infused and showcases the violinist's virtuosic range and rhythmic strength.

The String Quartet represents some of Nachoff’s most intricate writing to date, allowing him to explore his deep attachment to the tradition and his engagement with contemporary iterations. “I like to keep up with what’s happening now in quartet writing and this gave me the opportunity to explore some of those ideas – pitch axis, using quarter tones, etc., but still keeping a jazz influence because that’s a large part of my background”

Each of the four movements is a miniature concerto for each member of the quartet. The first movement features Violin II, the probing second movement showcases the Viola, the vacillating third movement is for the Cello and the intense final movement is for Violin I. “It felt like it was improvised, it had this really alive, vibrant feeling to it that is a testament to the Molinari’s exceptional work as an ensemble”

The final, titular piece, ‘Pivotal Arc’ is Nachoff’s extended reflection on the critical position we currently find ourselves regarding climate change. It features opening and closing solos from bassist Mark Helias, inspired contributions throughout from Michael Davidson, a call and response solo section between the orchestra and drummer Satoshi Takeishi and an improvisation section moving through a variety of moods for Nachoff’s tenor saxophone. “Mark is so accomplished and so individual, always able to add an element of surprise in any setting! Satoshi is similarly unique: he adds so much energy and always sees the big picture. Michael was phenomenal on both the improvisations and the written sections and JC Sanford was essential to realize the project and get the blend right"

With a sonic palette that ranges across the spectrum from Strayhorn and Mancini to Bartok and Berg, this is a stunningly original set of pieces that will cement Nachoff's reputation as a major cross-genre musical force.


“Nachoff on tenor saxophone… Chewing the musical scenery to bits as the composition progresses from hearty melody to expressive shrink and back again.”
DownBeat Magazine

"An almost cinematic scope and feel at times, the strings and horns creating vast sweeping landscapes of sound... A seriously ambitious record."

"A convincing contemporary classical concerto."
Jazzwise Magazine

"Nachoff shows he is a creator who has nothing to envy contemporary composers of classical allegiance, even though he comes from the jazz world."
Pan M 360

"A whole new world of shapes and dynamics... Exciting."

“A multifaceted but seamless sound world interweaving driving rhythms, pointillistic modernism, and folk-tinged romance.”

"There's something strikingly inventive and vivid about Nachoff's music."
★★★★ All About Jazz

"A convincing contemporary classical concerto."
Jazzwise Magazine

"Pivotal Arc is exciting and most intense, one of the best modern classical works I’ve heard in a long while."
Downtown Music Gallery Review

"Nachoff shows he is a creator who has nothing to envy contemporary composers of classical allegiance, even though he comes from the jazz world."
Pan M 360

"Quinsin is now defining experimental in new ways."
★★★★1/2 Winnipeg Free Press

"Magnificent, elegant and thrilling."
Jazz Life

“This melding of classical influences and jazz verities is also unexpectedly accessible, consistently lively, fiercely intelligent and often flat-out exhilarating.”

"Pivotal Arc is Nachoff's most ambitious cross-genre project yet."
Rhein Main Magazine

"His [Nachoff's] most original and personal work to date."
Citizen Jazz


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The Whirlwind Artist Page for saxophonist, composer and arranger Quinsin Nachoff.

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