In a blog post from last week, New York City composer Joseph Phillips discusses his ensemble Numinous and his decision to use woodwind doublers instead of a conventional orchestral woodwind section.
When I started Numinous back in the fall of 2000, I knew I wanted flexibility of colors in the woodwind section. Even though I’m a saxophone/woodwind player, I didn’t want a saxophone dominant sound to the section. I also didn’t want to have 10 woodwind players to cover saxophones, oboe, English Horn, flutes, clarinets, and whatever woodwinds I happen to write for. So the most natural solution was to have woodwind doublers who would be able to play multiple instruments. Of course with the demands of my music, I didn’t want or need a typical jazz saxophone doubler: someone that plays maybe passable flute or clarinet but not well enough to match their saxophone abilities. In addition to being able to improvise well on all of the instruments, I really need musicians whose abilities on the other woodwind instruments are all fairly equal and could move easily between jazz, classical, and popular genres.
One of Numinous’s woodwind players is Ben Kono, who currently plays the reed 1 book for Jersey Boys on Broadway. In Joseph’s blog post, he interviews Ben about his woodwind abilities: