All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

151

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

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Although this is a program consisting predominantly of music written by (now) ex-members of Soft Machine, the line taken is about as far from repertory as possible. It amounts to a rethinking of music that was nearly always distinctive. The approach here ensures that it ends up only more so, and not simply because a saxophone quartet is some kind of polar opposite to how that band rendered the music.

The fact that the music is able to withstand such scrutiny is no small testimony, and when the quartet is joined by bassist Hugh Hopper—a stalwart of the most worthwhile Soft Machine lineups some thirty-odd years ago—on his "Facelift, all sorts of new musical vistas open up, not the least of them being the notion of the piece as an example of chamber music of an idiosyncratic order.

"Mousetrap, also from Hopper's pen, has always been a piece that emphasizes his distinctive melodic sense. The fact that it's taken in such an unadorned fashion here allows the melody to breathe whilst the horns collectively have a ball with it, their empathy as a unit really coming to the fore in the way they seem to phrase as one, the individual selflessly serving the needs of the collective.

Both the group and Hopper the composer reveal much of themselves on the ineffably lovely "Everything Is You, and again the idea of rarefied chamber music springs to mind. In his solo, soprano saxophonist Graeme Blevins seems also to have absorbed a lesson from the composer in the sense that he never uses two notes when one will do. The effect overall is moving without being mawkish, and that's something that's all too rare these days.

This group's reading of Karl Jenkins' "Aubade is out of necessity given the kind of pared-down reading it would never have received in the hands of any of Soft Machine's later overtly fusion-oriented lineups. Again, the impression is of how lovely an essentially simple, unassuming melody can be. It's further emphasized by Hopper's "Dedicated To You, that also has the effect of underscoring how melancholically English a lot of that man's melodies are, even when one disregards the potentially contentious issue of national identity in music.

Given the instrumental lineup here this could have ended up as a soporific exercise. The fact that it doesn't is tribute not only to the musicians involved but also the composers. As such it amounts to a potent case for musical reinvestigation as a valid artistic exercise.


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 Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Hidden Details CD/LP/Track Review
Hidden Details
by John Kelman
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Selective Coverage CD/LP/Track Review
Selective Coverage
by Jim Olin
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Fat Daddy CD/LP/Track Review
Fat Daddy
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Short Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Short Stories
by Gareth Thompson
Published: September 19, 2018
Read "Find A Light" CD/LP/Track Review Find A Light
by Doug Collette
Published: June 2, 2018
Read "The Great Nostalgist" CD/LP/Track Review The Great Nostalgist
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Parallels" CD/LP/Track Review Parallels
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 8, 2018
Read "Hybrid" CD/LP/Track Review Hybrid
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 28, 2017
Read "Body and Shadow" CD/LP/Track Review Body and Shadow
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "Life Of" CD/LP/Track Review Life Of
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 27, 2018