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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean / Paul Dunmall / Paul Rogers / Tony Bianco: Remembrance

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English saxophonist Elton Dean has inspired several memorials since his untimely demise in 2006. But there is always space for another when it is as vital as Remembrance, a two CD set from 2004 issued by the Lithuanian NoBusiness imprint. Best known for his seminal work with the jazz rock pioneers Soft Machine, Dean also amassed a substantial discography in the company of luminaries such as Keith Tippett,Kenny Wheeler, Roswell Rudd and Howard Riley. All the three other participants on this slice of unfettered, free jazz interaction collaborated with Dean repeatedly from the early 1990s onwards, explaining the easy going ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean's Ninesense: Happy Daze + Oh! For The Edge

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This reissue of two Ninesense recordings, from the late British saxophonist Elton Dean, creates a gateway back to the London jazz scene of the 1970s. Digging into bands that he played with previously outside of his work with Soft Machine, he formed the nine-piece Ninesense with Keith Tippett, along with several other members of that pianist's bands, as well as other players that passed through the ranks of late South African pianist Chris McGregor's band, Brotherhood of Breath, like drummer Louis Moholo. Despite being accompanied by an astounding assembly of front-line horn players, Dean never gets lost in the mix ...

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Elton Dean / Steve Miller Trio / Soft Heap: British genre-benders

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Though non-idiomatic is a term often thrown around when referring to post-1960s British improvisation, the more apt one might be cross-idiomatic, insofar as significant players have worked across genres with regularity. Take alto saxophonist Elton Dean, for example. He was part of the three-horn front line of pianist Keith Tippett's group, which was co-opted by the Soft Machine (a band for whom even the term “progressive rock" doesn't do justice). Though trumpeter Marc Charig and trombonist Nick Evans eventually left, Dean stayed on through the early 1970s while at the same time playing with Tippett, pianist Chris McGregor and tenor ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Miller Trio / Elton Dean: Steve Miller Trio Meets Elton Dean

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean & The Wrong Object: The Unbelievable Truth

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Poignant doesn't cover it. This was one of Elton Dean's last gigs before his death and all the qualities that made him such a distinctive voice on alto sax and saxello--his wit, his ascetic, unsentimental lyricism and the like--are caught in abundance and in the company of a band who do a whole lot more than simply provide a framework for his invention.

“Millennium Jumble (The Wrong Object)" is a case in point. Dean's saxello work in particular was always marked by a certain leanness, as if he'd gone to the trouble of purging his playing of unnecessary diversions, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean & The Wrong Object: The Unbelievable Truth

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In the world of improvised music the energy of a first meeting can often be better than when there's been adequate prep time. British saxophonist Elton Dean's collaboration with the Belgium group The Wrong Object wasn't meant to be impromptu. And with Dean and the improvisational jazz/art rock quintet having exchanged scores for the October 18, 2005 performance documented on The Unbelievable Truth, it isn't as if either party had no preparation. But unexpected circumstances scuttled a pre-show rehearsal, so what you hear is literally a first encounter.

The Wrong Object has built a reputation for its astute interpretation of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean & Sophia Domancich: Avant

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Saxophonist Elton Dean first came to fame in the late '60s as a member of pianist Keith Tippett's sextet, and perhaps more prominently as part of what is now considered to be the classic Soft Machine lineup that recorded Third, Fourth and Fifth. Since that time he's been involved in a variety of projects--both as a group member and leader--that have maintained his ties to the British Canterbury scene, while at the same time continuing to forge his own identity as a fearless free improviser.

Not as well-known, pianist Sophia Domancich has nevertheless been something of a force on the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean: Sea of Infinity

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Artists including John Abercrombie and Bill Evans have said that the best free music still requires a reference point. Whether it is a harmonic centre or rhythmic conceit, it needs something to provide a focus; after that, the players are free to expound as extravagantly and with as much abandon as they can muster. And that's where British saxophonist Elton Dean's latest disk, Sea of Infinity is a mixed success. While these four collective improvisations--two quartet pieces, one duet and one duet augmented by some questionable beat poetry--work on a purely visceral level, only one of them really demonstrates that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean's Ninesense: Live at the BBC

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Saxophonist Elton Dean is probably best known for his stint in the classic Soft Machine line-up of '69- '72, but had already established himself as a significant free player with pianist Keith Tippett on records including You Are Here...I Am There and Dedicated to You But You Weren't Listening , as well as with his own group, Just Us.

After leaving Soft Machine, dissatisfied with the more fusion-oriented direction it was taking, he formed a number of groups that were important landmarks on the British free jazz scene, including the Elton Dean Quartet and, perhaps most importantly, Ninesense, his groundbreaking ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean and Mark Hewins: Bar Torque

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This debut release on the Moonjune label is rich, commanding and almost uncategorizable, an auspicious beginning for a new imprint. Elton Dean is well-known as a member of Soft Machine and many British jazz and fusion projects; Mark Hewins is less familiar but has logged time with Hugh Hopper, Steve Miller and John Stevens. The two met a couple of decades ago in Stevens’ Dance Orchestra and have worked together in Soft Heap since that time. The remarkable duo performance documented here consistently brings listeners to the edge of their seats.

The three long compositions were co-written by the two ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean: Moorsong

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English saxophonist Elton Dean retains the dubious distinction of having put the “Elton" into Elton John. (Yes, it's true. The zillionaire pianist formerly known as Reginald Dwight took his first name from Dean, with whom he performed decades ago.) Dean, who has extensively collaborated with pianist Keith Tippett, appears comfortable in a variety of styles. From blues to swinging jazz, from fusion to free improvisation, Dean does it all on Moorsong.

The first five tunes on Moorsong have a smooth, groovy (and at times quite funky) fusion feel. Dean's distinctive voice on the saxophone sets this quartet apart from the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elton Dean: Moorsong

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British modern/free jazz saxophonist Elton Dean signals in the New Year with a pleasant surprise on this new release titled, Moorsong. The artist is revered for his work with the legendary band,“Soft Machine”, numerous recordings with prominent participants of the British improvising scene, solo ventures and an early stint with blues vocalist Long John Baldry along with a young and then unknown pianist Reginald Dwight (Elton John). – In case you’re wondering, Dwight renamed himself after (Elton) Dean and Long (John) Baldry. Nonetheless, Dean opts for a shift in strategy on this affable and thoroughly grooving affair.

With “John’s Fragment”, ...



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