Yesterday was our band's holiday concert, and among our selections was Alfred Reed's Russian Christmas Music. Every time we perform this piece, I'm struck again by how magnificent it is. It's one of the greatest compositions for symphonic band, and also one of the few that can hold its own with the best works for symphony orchestra of similar length (e.g., overtures and tone poems). Reed's orchestration is wonderful; the 6/4 section in the middle is some of the most beautiful writing for band that I have ever heard.
Most classical musicians in the world are not primarily soloists, but rather ensemble players. Playing a work like Russian Christmas Music gives a saxophonist the opportunity to enjoy the experience of collaborating in a high-level large classical ensemble without feeling like an interloper.
Our sax quartet played at the reception following the concert. Afterward, an audience member came up to us and said that he's a retired jazz drummer and he loved our gig because it reminded him of the old days with Zoot Sims, Paul Desmond, etc. (lots of name-dropping). Of course he was greatly exaggerating our abilities, but it shows how starved for saxophone music, especially live, some listeners are.