All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

361

Delta Saxophone Quartet: Dedicated to You...But You Weren't Listening - The Music of Soft Machine

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
The legacy of Soft Machine continues to be felt to this day through alumni-related projects including Soft Bounds, Soft Mountain and Soft Machine Legacy. But it's the Delta Saxophone Quartet's Dedicated to You...But You Weren't Listening—The Music of Soft Machine that may be the most revelational...and revolutionary look at a legendary British group that ran the gamut from post-Dadaist psychedelia to free jazz and fusion between 1966 and 1981.



Those familiar with Soft Machine can draw a tenuous thread through its fifteen-year run. DSQ brings that line—regardless of period, context or composer—into sharp focus, with arrangements of material as early as the title track, from Volume Two (Probe, 1969), and as late as "Aubade" and "The Tale of Taliesin," from Softs (Harvest, 1976).



That the two Karl Jenkins tracks from Softs have a pastoral British feel is no surprise, given his post-Softs Ademus projects. But it's the beauty DSQ find in bassist Hugh Hopper's material—long considered more idiosyncratic and oblique—that proves the most unexpected. "Facelift," with a guest appearance by the bassist, remains a quirky, episodic piece, also featuring tenor saxophonist Tim Holmes and soprano saxophonist Graeme Blevins.

"Somehow with the Passage of Time...Kings and Queens 33 Years Later," on the other hand, refashions this equally abstruse tune from 4 (CBS, 1971) into rich contemporary classicism—at least until its midpoint, when Hopper's signature figure drives altoist Pete Whyman's visceral solo. "Everything is You" is dramatic yet beautiful, while "Noisette," pushed forward by propulsive baritone saxophonist Chris Caldwell, would work equally well with a small chamber orchestra.



That half the material chosen is Hopper's—with three by Jenkins and only one track referencing keyboardist Mike Ratledge and drummer/vocalist Robert Wyatt—might seem surprising to Soft Machine fans. But DSQ's combination of innovative commissioned arrangements and greater spontaneity suggest that Hopper's compositional contributions to Soft Machine may have been unfairly overshadowed. Even the three freely improvised tracks—"Dedicated," "To" and "You," find Hopper as their base inspiration.



"Outrageous Moon" combines Ratledge's "Out-Bloody-Rageous" and Wyatt's "The Moon in June," both from Soft Machine's seminal Third (CBS, 1970); a clever melding of two seemingly disparate pieces. Guest Morgan Fisher's outré vocals, rather than dominating, become an integrated part of the minimalist-informed first section, while his electronics texturally open up the second half. The near-ambient nature of Jenkins' "Floating World" also references Soft Machine's sometimes pervasive interest in Terry Riley-inflected minimalism.



While much of Dedicated is acoustic, processing figures strongly on the three improvised tracks, linking DSQ with its plugged-in inspiration. All four saxophonists mesh seamlessly as an ensemble while, at the same time, demonstrating plenty of individuality. Perhaps it doesn't seem so strange, after all, to hear the music of Soft Machine reworked for a largely classical repertory saxophone quartet. It's just one more example of how stylistic boundaries are being dissolved, and proof that the best material can be re-imagined into any context.


Track Listing: Dedicated; Facelift; Somehow With the Passage of Time...Kings & Queens 33 Years Later; Mousetrap; Everything is You; To; Outrageous Moon; Aubade; Noisette; Floating World; You; The Tale of Taliesin; Dedicated to You; Epilogue.

Personnel: Graeme Blevins: soprano saxophone; Chris Caldwell: baritone saxophone; Tim Holmes: tenor saxophone; Pete Whyman: alto saxophone; Hugh Hopper: electric bass guitar and loops (2); Morgan Fisher: vocals, hurdy gurdy and background electronics (7).

Title: Dedicated to You...But You Weren't Listening - The Music of Soft Machine | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Moonjune Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh CD/LP/Track Review
Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics CD/LP/Track Review
Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Invisible Atlas CD/LP/Track Review
Invisible Atlas
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Blue Dreams CD/LP/Track Review
Blue Dreams
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
Still Dreaming
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 24, 2018
Read A New Beginning CD/LP/Track Review
A New Beginning
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 23, 2018
Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk" CD/LP/Track Review Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Trio / Chinese Jesus" CD/LP/Track Review Trio / Chinese Jesus
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 26, 2017
Read "2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert" CD/LP/Track Review 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Day After Day" CD/LP/Track Review Day After Day
by John Eyles
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Contrast" CD/LP/Track Review Contrast
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 1, 2018
Read "Butterfly" CD/LP/Track Review Butterfly
by Chris May
Published: April 8, 2018