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

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Moonjune Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Groovin'" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin'
by Jeff Winbush
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 24, 2016
Read "North" CD/LP/Track Review North
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 3, 2016
Read "Ugly Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "IZA" CD/LP/Track Review IZA
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 17, 2017
Read "Life Compass On!" CD/LP/Track Review Life Compass On!
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 5, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!