Travis Laplante | photo by Adi Nachman

There’s something about the saxophone that seems to push its practitioners, more than any other single group of instrumentalists, to test sonic limits. Travis Laplante is undoubtedly part of that tradition. His solo work utilizes an arsenal of extended techniques to make his one horn sound like a battery of instruments, while he and altoist Darius Jones explore extremes of volume and breath in the quartet Little Women.

Battle Trance is undoubtedly Laplante’s most adventurous experiment in the sax’s capabilities to date. He formed the saxophone quartet expressly to take advantage of the boundary-stretching talents of fellow players Matthew Nelson, Jeremy Viner, and Patrick Breiner. The results, as heard on the quartet’s debut CD Palace of Wind (New Amsterdam) absorb and overwhelm the listener with the combined power of the four voices. Beautiful textural passages suddenly swell to become almost unbearably intense; hushed drones fragment into jarring, dissonant collisions. No doubt the effect will only be magnified live, as the quartet performs at an Ars Nova Workshop-presented concert Thursday night at the Rotunda.  More information can be found here.