Mott, David. Composer, saxophonist, administrator, b Downers Grove, Ill, 7 Jan 1945. B MUS (Berklee) 1968, M MUS (Yale) 1973, MMA (Yale) 1974, DMA (Yale) 1979. As a youth he studied clarinet and developed an interest in Dixieland jazz. He studied composition and visual arts at Hope College 1962-4. At Berklee College of Music he focused his studies on jazz and saxophone performance. His principal teachers have been James Drew, John Bavicchi, and William Maloof, and Robert Morris (Yale) encouraged his interest in dodecaphonic and non-western musics. His study of Asian musics showed Mott a link between expressive feeling and the pursuit of a higher level of consciousness.
Mott taught at Yale 1974-8 and began to teach at York University in 1978, where he became the head of the music dept in 1988. In 1986 he was one of the founding members of the performance group Sound Pressure. He has received commissions through the OAC and the Canada Council, and his compositions have been performed at music festivals including the New Music America Festival, Ear It Live, and Sound Symposium. Many of his compositions have been broadcast on radio in Canada and the USA.
Mott's compositions reflect his interest in blending Western art music and jazz with qualities of Asian musics. The result often brings together aspects of pre-compositionally planned music with sections that are more improvisational. With an almost spiritual reverence for sound, his music is rhythmically charged with an energy that is often focused by the melodic line. A Little Small Talk (1983) transforms the baritone saxophone into a percussion ensemble through the amplification of key slaps which are then used as pitched percussive sounds. The score is a set of verbal instructions that describes the basic philosophy, performance techniques, and the overall structure of the piece. It has received several broadcasts on the CBC radio program 'Two New Hours,' and was chosen to represent Canada at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris in 1985. Tiger Running... Nearer Breathing (1986), a virtuosic solo work for baritone saxophone, uses circular breathing to produce a continuous stream of sound which suspends the usual notion of a breathing cycle and creates a tense and vibrant psychological-spiritual experience for the listener. In this piece the performer is also encouraged to explore acoustical nuances discovered during a performance, which allows the spirit of the work to change and evolve with the moment. Wilderness (1977), for chamber orchestra, manifests the multiplicity found in nature, and provides a unique approach to form: it is comprised of several chamber works which can be performed individually, including Flora (string quartet), Waterways (woodwind quartet), Traversing (piano, harpsichord, and celeste), Weathering (solo double bass and electronics), Mesa (brass quartet), and Wooded (solo percussion).
The spiritual and transformational possibilities of music are important to Mott, and his interest in Zen and the martial art of Tai Chi are influences in his life and work. Among his works that reflect these qualities are Journey Through the Mist (1980) for flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, piano and double bass; Seven Ceremonies (1981) for flute and percussion; Regarding Starlight (1981) for baritone saxophone; Inside the Dance of Rain (1982) for bassoon and alto flute; and, Oh! Mysterious Magnum - Such Magenta Vintage (1989) for mixed ensemble.
Mott recorded From Distant Places (1979-80, Music Gallery Editions MGE-35), which includes his own Mega and Meditation 2 and other works for solo saxophone by Robert Morris and Robert Moore. He has also recorded James Tenney's Saxony (1984, CRI SD-528). His Night Flowers has been recorded by Marjorie Shansky, alto flute, and Salvatore Macchia, double bass (1978, Opus One No. 45). Mott wrote a four part article about his work, 'Towards a new mind/body music,' for Musicworks (19-21, 23, Spring 1982, Fall 1982, Spring 1983).