Steve Dalachinsky | Photo: Peter Gannushkin

Steve Dalachinsky

is a legendary New York downtown poet, very active in the free jazz/creative music scene.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York. He has been writing poetry for many years and has worked with such musicians as William Parker, Susie Ibarra, Matthew Shipp, Roy Campbell, Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen, Mat Maneri, Federico Ughi, Rob Brown, Tim Barnes and Jim O’Rourke. Two key elements in his poetry are spontaneity and the idea of transformation rather than description with a preference towards non-linear, non-narrative thought. He resides in Manhattan where he has lived for the past 35 years.

His CD recorded live at the Knitting Factory, NYC in November 2001 “I thought it was the end of the world then the end of the world happened again” (577 Records) with Federico Ughi has received excellent reviews. He is co-editor of the anthologies “Play The Red” and “Intervals 1&2-the Poems & Words of Musicians”. His poem “Fruitflies” appears on the Knitting Factory J.A.M. compilation.

He has a collection of poetry out “A Superintendent’s Eyes” (Hozomeen Press 2000). He has completed a manuscript entitled “The Final Nite”, comprised entirely of poems written while listening to the music of Charles Gayle from 1987 and appears in the Unbearables anthology “The Worse Book I Ever Read”.

He has written liner notes for the CDs of such musicians as Gayle, Anthony Braxton, James “Blood” Ulmer, Matthew Shipp, Roy Campbell. His 1999 CD “Incomplete Direction”, a collection of his poetry read in collaboration with various musicians, such as William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen, Susie Ibarra, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Vernon Reid (Living Colour) and others, and available on Knitting Factory records, has met with much acclaim.

He has read his work both here and abroad including recent readings in Germany, Kentucky, Philadelphia, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Steve Dalachinsky on 577records


Steve Dalachinsky & Federico Ughi

Steve Dalachinsky – Words
Federico Ughi – Drums, voice and live sampling

All words by Steve Dalachinsky. All music by Federico Ughi. Recorded live at the Knitting Factory, New York City. Date: November 12th, 2001. Release: August 2002. Total CD time 35:42. Photograph: Federico Ughi

A year later, and the number ‘two’ still carries with it a tinge of horror in New York City. Two parallel lines, two events in succession, two become none. On his new CD, New York poet and frequent improv collaborator Steve Dalachinsky never even mentions the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The cover is a photo of seagulls flying against a plane of blue, not a shot of destruction and devastation. But while the city’s wound is healing, it’s still tender. The title – the suggestion that the world ended twice – like the paranoiac strains within – don’t need to spell out terror in order to explore it.

The thirty-minute suite is actually about vulnerability, albeit at a sensitive time. Dalachinsky has a good ear, and knows how to build a piece like a good jazz soloist, how to state the theme and when to return to it. But with a quiet percussion soundscape behind, the themes are not notes but rather words: “I know they’re trying to rob my soul/they know the combination to my lock,””It’s a good life if you don’t kill it,””I placed a phone call to the future, but it didn’t answer,””It’s been nothing/nothing since the beginning of the game/I was ready to get out of here and then this happened.” Like a good jazz solo, the sentiments are clear unless you think about them too much.

Dalachinsky is known for his work with the best of New York’s jazz and creative improv community. His earlier Knitting Factory release included Susie Ibarra, Thurston Moore, Matthew Shipp, and Daniel Carter, among numerous others. Such projects work because the poet knows how to leave plenty of room for his collaborators. Drummer and electronicist Federico Ughi is a different kind of foil, however. Rather than a jazzy state-theme-solo-and-vamp construction, Ughi creates quiet but effective washes behind the poet’s words, and puts occasional live effects to Dalachinsky’s voice, adding to the drama without getting in the way. The result is two artists working on an even plane, creating a single, evocative work. Signal To Noise, Winter 2003, Kurt Gottschalk

New York-based poet Steve Dalachinsky (words) collaborates with Federico Ughi (d, vcl, live sampling) on I THOUGHT IT WAS THE END OF THE WORLD AND THEN THE END OF THE WORLD HAPPENED AGAIN (577 Records 577-3). It’s a set of seven somber poems recorded live at the Knitting Factory. It’s obvious that most of these poems are a response to the horror and the stupidity that happened on and since September 11, 2001. (The only exception would be “The Submarine Kyrsk” which is a meditation on the Russian submarine that sank in the Arctic earlier that year.)

Surprisingly they’re read in a mostly calm voice – no hysterics. The poems inter-relate, with repeated phrases cropping up in various sections. But within this calm, his observations and feelings about the events and their aftermaths are conveyed with strength and passion. Ughi’s accompaniment is equally subtle: lots of low rumbling drums with light cymbal taps and the occasional use of sampling (thankfully not overused). On the final version of the title track, Ughi comes to the fore with a lengthy solo passage consisting of drums, what sounds like an electronic drone, and his voice. It is one of the highlights of the disc. This not light listening; on the contrary, it is a strong document that shows how the relevance and power of the spoken word can convey the horror of the event far better that can any shallow documentary shown on television hosted by your favorite anchor person. Cadence Magazine, April 2003, Robert Iannapollo

  • Mr. Dalachinsky is a local wordsmith, poet, performer, mc and an integral part of and friend to the Downtown scene. Mr. Ughi is a fine percussionist and sampler player, who comes from Italy, has lived in England and has come to NYC to collaborate with different musicians over the past few years.

    Federico’s first release was duos with different British sax players; his second was a fine duo with the ubiquitous local reeds and horn hero – Daniel Carter. This is his third duo(s) effort.Steve is also a close friend of mine, a kindred spirit and live music junky like many of us who can’t miss that important gig. This CD was recorded live at the Knit in November of last year. I love Steve’s words because they come close to explaining or illustrating the passion, frustration and insanity of life in this ridiculous scene.
    Federico consistently does a fine job of providing and matching Steve’s ongoing story with subtle drums and suspenseful sampled sonics. Sometimes Steve is a disembodied head searching for his body, in which Federico selects just right to sample to repeat in the distance.

    Although I’ve heard Steve read many of these poems on a few different occasions, they still sound fresh as they reveal a different layer of meaning each time we hear them. Both Steve and Federico work well together, anticipating each other’s moves, shifting emotion and scrutiny of the never-ending struggle to make some sense of these often confusing times. The cover consists of the backs of birds gliding in the blue sky above Coney Island, free and floating on the wind. Federico uses minimal percussive sounds and samples in an ultra selective way, just as occasional punctuation for Steve’s stories and observations. The final piece is one in which his somber percussive fragments are woven with eerie sampled vocal drones and Steve discusses the “end of the world” for the second and final time. Downtown Music Gallery, NYC. August 2002