We were surprised to learn about the sudden passing of poet Steve Dalachinsky early Monday morning. Steve was a omnipresent figure on the Downtown Music scene, a fan of the music, and one of those ever rarer true New Yorkers. At a show in Brooklyn this summer, he told me "Ahh, I like Berlin, I only have one enemy there. Here in New York, I have lots of them." From what I know, this was a good example of the type of self-deprecating joke that you could expect from him. Steve made his way into the pages of the blog from time to time, whether as the author of liner-notes, interviewed in documentaries, or having a song dedicated to him (see here). His list of accomplishments is long and varied, but some highlights include a book of poetry on saxophonist Charles Gayle, collaboration with pianist Matthew Shipp on an album (Phenomena Of Interference) as well as a book (Logos and Language: A Post-Jazz Metaphorical Dialogue) and had earned the prestigious Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award for poetry from France in 2014. Our condolences to his friends and family.
Enjoy this short documentary on Steve Dalachinsky:
It is a shock to the whole Improv Community especially here in NYC. He was a constant supporter of the arts and would show up at a gig unannounced. He will be missed.
I talked to him on the last Vision Festival, where he was a regular. He was a warm-hearted, open minded man, who could talk endlessly about the music and the musicians. It's really a loss.
Steve was often a cantankerous SOB but he was also the best poet to emerge and document what many refer to as the Downtown Scene. I met him in the mid-80’s at the old Knitting Factory and we’ve attended 100’s (1,000’s?) of concerts together. He was immensely passionate about going to gigs as often as was possible, sometimes leaving one gig early to gig to another gig so not to miss something important. I didn’t find out he was a poet until later and realized his poetry often described the essence of the diverse yet intimate Downtown Music & Art Community. I recall many gigs at the Knit and elsewhere in the late eighties/early nineties when the only folks at many sets were Steve & Yuko, his lovely wife, Stephanie & Irving Stone & yours truly. Favorite gig memory with Steve is this: we were checking a group called Prima Materia at the Old Knit with Rashied Ali, Louie Belogenis, Allan Chase, Joe Gallant and/or William Parker. This great group only played John Coltrane and Albert Ayler songs and did them immensely well. Louie announced that someone would join them for a song, that was John Zorn, who was one of Louie’s oldest friends & inspirations. I am pretty sure it was a Coltrane piece and Mr. Zorn took a long, mind-blowing solo - both Louie from the side of the stage and Rashied from behind the drums were radiating smiles since Zorn took this piece to another another level. Both Steve and were completely stunned. At the end of the solo & song, we grabbed each other and hugged. We knew we had witnessed one of great moments of jazz history! Steve Dalachinsky was always searching for that transcendent moment in music. I was so glad to have him as a friend and kindred spirit. He will be sorely missed since he seemed to turn up at so many gigs both here and in Europe, where he toured from time to time. I urge you to find one of his poetry books and read his words. He also did a good deal of liner notes for CD’s on the Rogue Art label. He can be heard on perhaps a dozens disc with musicians like Matt Shipp, the Snobs, Joelle Leandre, Federico Ughi, Daniel Carter, Matt Mottel, William Parker and Sabir Mateen. Rest in peace, my old friend. - Bruce Lee Gallanter
A Prima Materia gig with that line-up was recorded for release on the Knitting Factory Works CD 'Peace on Earth (music of John Coltrane)'.
For at least thirty years I have been attending shows where Steve Dalachinsky was present. As time moved on, we became friends and would often sit together at shows. Steve had an endless appetite for great music, and his presence at a show almost always meant you had made a good choice for the evening. The longer I knew him, the greater my appreciation for him as a friend. I saw him less than two weeks ago, at a Frode Gjerstad show in NYC, and you could feel his enthusiasm for the music. I am so sad at his loss. - Eric Stern
Can anyone recommend what particular works of his to start with?
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