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Scott Fields Ensemble - Songs of Steve Dalachinsky

Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery


The thing that I’ve always dug about American-born, German-based guitarist/composer Scott Fields is that nearly all of his 3 dozen-plus discs have a concept in mind and are not mainly free improv excursions. The concept for this disc was/is taking the poetry of the late Downtown poet Steve Dalachinsky and using his words an inspiration for the sextet that Mr. Fields has organized here. Steve Dalachinsky was an old, dear friend of mine who I would meet at more concerts than anyone else throughout the four decades that we were friends. Although I didn’t know he was a poet until the early nineties, we were kindred spirits as far as having a passion to check out as many Creative Music concerts as was possible. It turned out that Dalachinsky was also a wonderful poet and did the best job I knew of documenting/discussing (through his poetry) the music that a handful of us lived to hear played live many times a week for many years. Mr. Dalachinsky and his lovely wife Yuko Otomo, Irving & Stephanie Stone and yours truly would often be the only folks to attend many of the same concerts, especially during the early years of the Downtown Scene. When Mr. Dalachinsky passed away in September of 2019, we lost a special creative spirit who was a friend to many of the musicians, artists & serious listeners of the Downtown Scene.
Mr. Fields takes six of Mr. Dalachinsky’s poems and sets them to music which sounds partially free yet somehow directed. Mr. Fields has been living and thriving in Germany some three decades and this is where all or most of the musicians here are based. I only know a couple of the names here like Melvyn Poore (who has worked with Frank Gratkowski & the King Ubu Orchestra) and Norbert Rodenkirchen (who has worked with Albrecht Maurer). The music here is continuous with short interludes in between each piece. Although vocalist Barbara Schachtner sounds like an opera singer, she is used sparingly and is an integral member of this sextet. Dalachinsky’s poems are reprinted in the enclosed booklet so we can savor their meaning. The music often sounds like chamber music and is thoughtfully composed and focused. There are little or no actual solos here yet the music is consistently fascinating and quirky with some unexpected twists and turns. The only member who gets a chance to stretch a bit is Mr. Fields who often adds some odd, barbed spice at times. Although the music doesn’t remind me of the irascible Mr. Dalachinsky, hearing the words at times does recall his gift for describing the life of us serious Downtown listeners.