Bowie, Berlin Beyond (FMR 473; UK) The Delta Saxophone Quartet features Graeme Blevins on sopranino & soprano saxes & clarinet, Peter Whyman on alto sax & clarinet, Tim Holmes on tenor sax & clarinet and Chris Caldwell on bari sax & bass clarinet. The Delta Sax Quartet are in a class of their own since they choose each project with thoughtful care. With a half dozen discs under their belt, they’ve covered the music of minimalist composers: Philip Glass, Gavin Bryars & Terry Riley, Soft Machine (highly recommended!) and King Crimson. For their new project, they are covering the music of the late David Bowie, from his Berlin period in the late seventies. Mr. Bowie was a consistently enigmatic singer/composer/conceptualist. His sound and image changed on ever record and embraced the many worlds of rock music. I remember being shocked by his change in direction during his Berlin period, collaborating with Brian Eno (as a producer) and Robert Fripp, as a guest guitarist. The two albums he made during this period, “Low” and “Heroes”, were and still are favorites of those of us who love progressive rock music. It seems almost natural for the Delta Sax Quartet to cover this music as it was quite a departure for Mr. Bowie and perhaps some of darkest and most transcendent. Although the songs on side one of each album were created with rock instrumentation (vocals, electric guitars & bass, drums and bits of synth), the Delta Sax Quartet do a fine job of creating a similar sinister, haunting sound. Aside from the layers of saxes, there is some drum machine samples which seem to fit this music just right. The richly harmonized saxes sound majestic, with a bit of 50's sounding rock licks, not unlike the way Roxy Music (mother exponent of the glam era like Bowie) combined retro and futuristic licks into a unique combination. To keep things interesting, and perhaps not too dark, they cover a few other Bowie songs from other era like, “The Laughing Gnome” (from his early period), “Alabama Song” (written by German composer Bertolt Brecht) and “Music for Airports” (by Eno, from his ambient period). All of these sounds seem to fit the overall vibe, capturing the dark undertow with a poignant gracefulness. All four members of the Delta Sax Quartet play clarinets as well, which also add a certain, warm, wooden, austere tone. A superb disc all the way around.
DMG Bruce Lee Gallanter 11/02/18
Bowie, Berlin & Beyond was a well-attended evening of minimalist music
Dorset Echo Nick Horton 05/02/20
This album is cool. Seriously cool. My initial scepticism over how badly pop songs can translate to instrumental works disappeared within the first 18 seconds of listening to the opening track
Clarinet & Saxophone Neil Crossley 01/02/20
...these artful and insightful expositions of Bowie, King Crimson and others should more than arouse the musical appetites of staunch prog rock enthusiasts and open-minded jazz devotees.
All about Jazz Glenn Astarita 13/11/18
Utilising Bowie & Eno as an aesthetic springboard, this programme is at at the intersection between popular, minimal and ambient genres.. with their rounded tone, the Deltas occupied every corner of the space while retaining impressive precision.
York Press Richard Powell 05/03/18
Punchy swagger, quirky solos and ambient drones.. tailor made for the harmonies of this saxophone quartet.. I really fell for this album
Bird is the Worm Dave Sumner 06/03/18
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