Chris Caldwell,Delta Saxophone Quartet

Minimal Tendencies


Delta Saxophone Quartet/Soft Machine set with Hugh Hopper

Somewhat unexpectedly, the genesis of the Crimson project can be traced back to a cold December evening at the Britannia stadium. Delta Saxophone Quartet’s Chris Caldwell and pianist Gwilym Simcock, both ardent Stoke City FC fans, first met at the Europa cup match between Stoke and Dynamo Kiev. From here, it was only a small step to the quartet commissioning Simcock as one of two composers (the other being Mark-Anthony Turnage) for their 30th birthday celebrations in 2014.

The Delta Saxophone Quartet is a long running ensemble led by baritone saxophonist Chris Caldwell. Although nominally a classical ensemble the group has always had a very contemporary edge and has explored the music of minimalist composers such as Gavin Bryars, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, Terry Riley and Steve Reich plus the contemporary British composers Graham Fitkin and the late Steve Martland. Indeed several of the members of DSQ were once part of Martland’s band.

Delta Saxophone Quartet & Gwilym Simcock Crimson

The Delta Saxophone Quartet Tour Dates & Tickets - Ents24

After the introduction, it's a local line-up - called Glogassonic Band - that starts the concert, performing a composition by Joe Schittino called... Minuetto della tosse. The group is well coordinated, and quite professional sounding, but the "idea" of the piece (minuet + coughing) gets tired real soon, leaving me with a sense of puzzlement. Provided I understood correctly, the minuet is followed by another composition by the same author: performed by the Delta Saxophone Quartet, with Martland as a speaking voice, we have Adventures In Quartet. The composition has a very simple, almost didactic, development; the main point being that, every few bars, the music alternates with spoken interludes by Martland, who slowly narrates in good Italian a weird story whose culminating point sounds like this: "un maggo chièsse a la raggaza se pre-fferiva 1) ritrovvare i'suo fi-ddanzato opure 2) trovvare l'uòmmo con l'ucèlo più grosso de'mondo; la raggaza scesse la seconda senn-za esitazzione" (it's just a double entendre which uses the italian word "uccello" in its similarity of meaning with "cock" as - ahem... - comic material). I look down at my shoes, trying in vain to find the answer to the multitude of questions crowding my mind. Provided I understood correctly, the last piece of the first part is Freedom by Anzalone: a strange sort of "conducted jam" for many instrumentalists, with no personality nor direction.

'Crimson!' has been commissioned and is played by the Delta Saxophone Quartet. It's a new work composed by and featuring Gwilym Simcock. It draws its inspiration from the work of the UK rock band King Crimson.