Steve Miller Trio / Elton Dean: Steve Miller Trio Meets Elton Dean (2008)
Here's another exercise in musical archaeology from Reel and it is worthy of loud and prolonged applause. British pianist Miller was always a worthwhile player, shaping up here as he often did as the British Mal Waldron in terms of his purged-of-excess approach to the keyboard. He always kept sound musical company and the presence of both Dean and drummer Eddie Prevost testifies to that here.
Made in the moment, "Dedicated To Few" is a highly persuasive manifesto for such an approach. When the music bucks and boils it's only as an outcome of what's gone before, with each musician's powers of response really tested. For the record, none of them are found wanting. Despite the billing, this is music that willfully and indeed joyfully subverts the soloist with accompaniment trope, although anything that might imply that voices are raised in serving the end of empty cacophony doesn't apply here. Instead the optimum term could just be 'organic.'
By comparison, an exercise which all too often yields little in the way of substance for discussion, "Bishop Of Stortford" is a relatively tranquil affair. Dean here pares his lines down to the absolute minimum, his contribution both acerbic and telling. The members of the Miller trio to a man both stimulate and contribute to the many dialogs going on and the very momentum of the music seems to stem from that collective endeavor. It only goes to show how arbitrary the business of capturing 'the music' can be even while in this case listeners can be eternally grateful that it was.
In many respects there was no need for an additional recording on this one, but we get it in the form of "One For Three" with a trio consisting of Miller, Dean, and drummer, Pip Pyle. There's a host of reasons to be grateful that the music was caught, not the least of them being that it captures the two principals in a more reflective frame of mind, with Pyle showing what a good colorrist he was. Again the music has that profoundly in-the-moment feel which elevates it to another plane, and Dean in particular exploits the opportunity to show off his lyrical side.
Track Listing: Dedicated To Few; Bishop Of Stortford; One For Three.
Personnel: Elton Dean: saxello (1, 2), alto sax (3); Steve Miller: piano; Tony Moore: bass (1, 2); Eddie Prevost: drums (1, 2); Pip Pyle: drums (3).