Delta Saxophone Quartet

Capstone Theatre
Hope University, Shaw Street
16th October 2014

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Having been together for thirty years, on stage tonight where Graham Blevins (soprano), Pete Whyman (alto), Tim Holmes (tenor), and leader Chris Caldwell (baritone). Their one hour set turned out to be an eclectic mix of old and new and became more interesting and intense as the evening developed.

It got off to a somnolent start. 'Tutta la terra canti in Dio' was a wistful piece which sounded like a school recorder group warming up, but then again, it was composed over 500 years ago in Venice by Loys Borgeois; but it got the tubes going.

Next up a definite northern coolness in Arvo Part's Summa. Circulating high and low waves of sound built up as the soprano sax held the momentum, while the rest took it in turns to keep the repetitive phrasing coming round.

The group had had to change the programme as Blevins needed to fly off that night from Gatwick Airport, to back Kylie Minogue. We were then treated to an eight minute slice of a 53 minute world premiere piece, Crimson, which is due to be performed in Milan next month in collaboration with Gwillam Simcock. 'You're all welcome' pipes up Caldwell 'as long as you pay your own way!'

Again the busy soprano has the floor, but all pick up the refrain with outbursts of intense expression, tempo and rhythm changes in duelling crescendos of noise, resolving to a consensual quiet.We were informed this was an 'eyes down' performance, the ink still not dry, but where is it in the finished score? We will have to wait and see.

Continuing their exploration of prog rock super group King Crimson they followed up with a three-parter, Soft Machine, Dedicated To You, a homage to that band's bass player, Hugh Hopper.

Facelift' was followed by 'Everything Is You' and finally 'Mousetrap'. There was lots of room for improvisation, each to their own, but the dark resonating staccato of the baritone bop, bop, bopping along stood out, as did an ultimate slug fest between Caldwell and Holmes; a miasma of chaotic virtuosity, the latter in skittish seagull wailing territory. There was also a soprano solo, creamy and smoothly paced and more balanced backing to the striving solo burst from Whyman's alto.

The last piece arrived all too soon. Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint. This driving through the night music evoked all the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Was it only four players on stage? Aficionados will know that pre-recorded back up loops are integral to the work. All bubbling rhythms, repetition and circulatory outpouring, it was a fitting finale to proceedings.

A curtailed evening, yes - but you did not have to just smell the coffee - you could drink it gratis, before and after the show - it's a pity there were not more in the audience to do so.

To read Tom Bottle's review click here

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Sorry Comments Closed

Comment left by Urban Johnny on 27th October, 2014 at 12:18
Great wordplay carried me to the end. Bravo!