Elton Dean
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Saxophonist Elton Dean (1945) cut his teeth in Long John Baldry's blues band. He was hired by Keith Tippett in 1968 and the following year joined the Soft Machine, returning to Tippett's combos in 1971 and playing with In Cahoots since 1973.

Dean recorded his first solo album, Elton Dean (may 1971 - CBS, 1971), reissued as Just Us (Cuneiform, 1998), while he was still a member of Soft Machine, taking advantage of Mark Charig (cornet, another Baldry veteran), Neville Whitehead (bass), Phil Howard (drums), and of guests such as Mike Ratledge (keyboards) and Roy Babbington (bass). The album's 20-minute Banking On Bishopsgate (a 20-minute fit of post-cool neurosis) and 15-minute Ooglenovastrome (that slowly coalesces into a hot sax-piano dialogue), besides the hallucinated Something Passed Me By and the visceral Neo-Caliban Grides, revealed a jazz soul that can be both poetic and scientific.

1976 saw the debut of his Ninesense: Alan Skidmore (saxophone), Harry Beckett (trumpet), Mark Charig (trumpet), Nick Evans (trombone), Keith Tippett (piano), Harry Miller (bass), Louis Moholo (drums). Oh For The Edge (march 1976 - Ogun, 1977) offered a modern interpretation of the "big band" concept via Dean's Dance and For Soothe and pieces by other composers. A slightly different line-up cut the superior Happy Daze (july 1977 - Ogun, 1978), a set of four jams (Nicrotto, Seven for Lee, Sweet F.A., Three for All).

The Quartet (or EDQ) also featured Keith Tippett and recorded They All Be On This Old Road (november 1976 - Ogun, 1977), mainly a tribute to Coltrane.

Dean was living the most prolific time of his life, also cutting albums with jazz musicians: The Cheque is in The Mail (march 1977 - Ogun, 1977), with Kenny Wheeler, El Skid (february 1977 - Vinyl, 1977), with Alan Skidmore.

Dean, bassist High Hopper and Gilgamesh's keyboardist Alan Gowen joined forces and formed Soft Head, whose Rogue Element (may 1978 - Ogun, 1978) contained Dean's Seven For Lee (which had already appeared on one of his albums) and Gowen's C.R.R.C.. The CD reissue also includes the far more adventurous suite Ranova (another Dean composition).

The same trio, with the addition of Gong's drummer Pip Pyle, made Soft Heap (october 1978 - Charly, 1978 - Spalax, 1995), a slightly more invigorating album that contains A.W.O.L., Hopper's Circle Line, Dean's Terra Nova and Gowen's Petit 3's.

Hopper and Dean also launched the Monster Band (Atmosphere, 1979).

Boundaries (february 1980 - Japo, 1980) sounded like a smaller-scale version of Ninesense (it featured Tippett, Charig and Moholo) and included four of Dean's best themes: Boundaries, Oasis, Basho, Out Of Bounds.

A Veritable Centaur (march 1982 - Impetus, 1995) collects material recorded in 1982 by Pip Pyle, Elton Dean, bassist John Greaves and guitarist Mark Hewins (who were still touring as Soft Heap).

After a seven-year hiatus, Dean returned with a Quintet featuring Harry Beckett on trumpet, Paul Rutherford on trombone, Marcio Mattos on bass and Liam Genockey on drums. They recorded in Brazil the three jams that appear on Welcomet (march 1986 - Impetus, 1987): Welcomet, Rio Rules, Obrigado.

With Nick Evans replacing Rutherford, the Quintet recorded two epic-length jams in Italy (Port Of Call and Dust Up) that surfaced on The Bologna Tape (april 1985 - Ogun, 1988). The Duos (ED Tapes, 1988) and the Trios (ED Tapes, 1989) involve Keith Tippett, bassist Marcio Mattos and pianist Howard Riley.

Unlimited Saxophone Company (may 1989 - Ogun, 1990) was a live recording of Dean's new band featuring the horn section of Paul Dunmall, Simon Picard and Trevor Watts, and the rhythm section of Paul Rogers and Tony Levin.

All the Tradition (june 1990 - Slam, 1990) and Descending Circles (december 1995 - Blueprint, 1996), with pianist Howard Riley, Put It Right Mr.Smoothie (february 1990 - Splasch, 1990) and Twice Upon A Time (may 1995 - Splasch, 1995), with the Anglo-Italian Quartet The Vortex Tapes (september 1990 - Slam, 1992), If Dubois Only Knew (february 1995 - Voiceprint, 1996), with Paul Dunmall, showed Dean's renewed interest in the British jazz scene.

Dean's quintet of pianist Sophia Domancich and three members of Mujician (trumpeter Paul Dunmall, bassist Paul Rogers and drummer Tony Levin) recorded Silent Knowledge (june 1995 - Cuneiform, 1996), that contains four lengthy improvisations, perhaps the peak of his art. The 28-minute Gualchos has a Gato Barbieri-like melodic theme with suspense-filled drumming and dissonant piano, followed by phases of swinging tumultuous piano improvisation and guttural saxophone solos until the theme is joyfully reconstructed, followed by eight minutes of semi-cacophonous deconstruction. The brooding free-form Sound Awake, the nocturnal and romantic First in the Wagon, the chaotic, desperate Trains for Tooting explore three different sides of Dean's art, each equally compelling.

Dean also plays on Pip Pyle's Equipe Out.

Dean formed the British Saxophone Quartet with Dunmall, Simon Picard and George Haslam and recorded Early October, Neologie Musicale, Time to Go Now, which appear on Early October (october 1995 - Slam, 1996).

Rumours of an Incident (october 1996 - Slam, 1997) was a collaboration with trombonist Roswell Rudd, that yielded The Incident and The Goosebumps.

Dean, trombonist Roswell Rudd and Keith Tippett's ensemble Mujician recorded Bladik (october 1996 - Cuneiform, 1997), containing three jams: Forearmed, Too Suchmuchness, 'K Ad Lib.

Three's Company Two's A Crowd (Culture Press, 1997) resurrected unreleased tracks of 1979.

Dean also played on Elephants In Your Head (april 1995 - Voiceprint, 1997), credited to Mashu (percussionist Shyamal Maitra, Hopper, Hewins and Dean).

Dean's big band Newsense (november 1997 - Slam, 1998), a successor to the Ninesense of the 1970s, included three trombonists (Rutherford, Rudd, Annie Whitehead), trumpet player Jim Dvorak, pianist Alex Maguire, and a cello-driven rhythm section.

Into The Nierika (march 1998 - Blueprint, 1998) contains three improvised jams with a drummer and a bassist. That evolved into the Headless Quartet (february 1997 - Culture Press, 1998).

The Mind In The Trees (february 1997 - Voiceprint, 1988) was recorded live in the studio by the quartet of Dean, Hopper, Vince Clarke (drums) and Frances Knight (keyboards) and contained some of his most straightforward music in a while: The Utsk-Kutsk Ostinato, Leaves On The Line, Sank Evan, Lightening Up Time .

After One To One (january 1999 - Slam, 1999), another collaboration with pianist Howard Riley, Dean assembled new and old collaborators to record QED (january 2000), that shows signs of assimilation of acid-jazz and trip-hop (Hammond X, Altored Strait New Roads, Quartered, the 20-minute Deep Crease).

The inferior Moorsong (march 1999 - Cuneiform, 2001), recorded in 1999, features five organ-driven jams (led by Alex Maguire), in particular the sprightly soul-rock of John's Fragment, the intricate Willie The Knee and the bluesy Baker's Treat, and two subdued free-form improvisations performed with bassist Fred Baker, Hewins and Sanders (Reel Welders, Soldering On). The title-track is dedicated to Syd Barrett.

Bar Torque (november 1992 - MoonJune, 2001) contains three 1992 live duets with MIDI-guitarist Mark Hewins that are mainly displays of the alien sounds produced by the MIDI-guitar (Bar Torque, Sylvan, Merlin's Cave).

Keith Tippett, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper and John Marshall also formed SoftWare.

The Unbelievable Truth (october 2005) documents a live performance with Belgian group Wrong Object.

Elton Dean died in february 2006.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini)

Il sassofonista Elton Dean esordì nella blues band di Long John Baldry. Fu contattato da Keith Tippett nel 1968 e l'anno seguente si unirà ai Soft Machine, per ritornare nel combo di Tippett nel 1971 e suonare negli In Cahoots a partire dal 1973.

Dean realizzò il suo primo album solista, Elton Dean (CBS, 1971), ristampato col titolo Just Us (Cuneiform, 1998), quando era ancora membro dei Soft Machine, godendo dei servigi di Mark Charig (corno, un altro veterano dell'era Baldry), Neville Whitehead (basso), Phil Howard (batteria), Mike Ratledge (tastiere) and Roy Babbington (contrabbasso). I 20 minuti di Banking On Bishopsgate e i 15 di Ooglenovastrome, dietro i temi sofisticati di Something Passed Me By e Neo-Caliban Grides, rivelano un jazz soul che può essere sia poetico che scientifico.

Nel 1996 debuttano i Ninesense: Alan Skidmore (sassofono), Harry Beckett (tromba), Mark Charig (tromba), Nick Evans (trombone), Keith Tippett (piano), Harry Miller (basso), Louis Moholo (batteria). Oh For The Edge (Ogun, 1977) offre un'interpretazione moderana del concetto di "big band". Una formazione leggermente differnete realizza Happy Daze (Ogun, 1978), un insieme di quattro lunghe jams (Nicrotto, Seven for Lee, Sweet F.A., Three for All).

Elton Dean forma anche un quartetto, The Quartet (o EDQ) con la partecipazione di Keith Tippett col quale registra They All Be On This Old Road (Ogun, 1977), per lo più un tributo a Coltrane.

Dean ha passato la parte più prolifica della sua vita a realizzare album con musicisti jazz: The Cheque is in The Mail (Ogun, 1977), con Kenny Wheeler, El Skid (Vinyl, 1977), con Alan Skidmore.

Dean, il bassista High Hopper e il tastierista dei Gilgamesh Alan Gowen si unioscono e formano i Soft Head, e registrano Rogue Element (Ogun, 1978) di cui Seven For Lee (firmata da Dean, e che era già comparsa su un suo album solista) e C.R.R.C. di Gowens sono i pezzi migliori. La ristampa su CD includerà anche la ben più avventurosa suite Ranova (un'altra composizione di Dean).

Lo stesso trio, with con l'aggiunta del batterista Pip Pyle dei Gong, realizzò Soft Heap (Charly, 1978 - Spalax, 1995), un album lievemente più vigoroso che contiene A.W.O.L., Circle Line (di Hopper), Terra Nova (di Dean) e Petit 3's (di Gowen).

Hopper e Dean varano anche il progetto Monster Band (Atmosphere, 1979).

Boundaries (Japo, 1980) suona come una versione su scala ridotta dei Ninesense (con Tippett, Charig e Moholo) e include quattro tra i migliori temi di Dean: Boundaries, Oasis, Basho, Out Of Bounds.

A Veritable Centaur (Impetus, 1995) raccoglie materiale registrato nel 1982 da Pip Pyle, Elton Dean, il bassista John Greaves e il chitarrista Mark Hewins (che all'epoca facevano concerti come Soft Heap).

Dopo un silenzio di sette anni, Dean ritorna con il Quintet formato da Harry Beckett alla tromba, Paul Rutherford al trombone, Marcio Mattos al basso e Liam Genockey alla batteria. Le tre jam di Welcomet (Impetus, 1987) furono registrate in Brasile: Welcomet, Rio Rules, Obrigado.

Con Nick Evans al posto di Rutherford, i Quintet registrarono due epiche jam in Italia (Port Of Call e Dust Up) che saranno pubblicate su The Bologna Tape (Ogun, 1988). Duos (ED Tapes, 1988) e Trios (ED Tapes, 1989) riguardano Keith Tippett, il bassista Marcio Mattos e il pianista Howard Riley.

Unlimited Saxophone Company (Ogun, 1990) è una registrazione live della nuova band di Dean, con la sezione fiati di Paul Dunmall, Simon Picard e Trevor Watts, e la sezione ritmica formata da Paul Rogers e Tony Levin.

All the Tradition (Slam, 1990) and Descending Circles (Blueprint, 1996), con il pianista Howard Riley, Put It Right Mr.Smoothie (Splasch, 1990) e Twice Upon A Time (Splasch, 1995), con il Anglo-Italian Quartet The Vortex Tapes (Slam, 1992), If Dubois Only Knew (Voiceprint, 1996), con Paul Dunmall, mostrano il rinnovato interesse di Dean per la scena jazz britannica.

Il quintetto formato da Dean, dalla pianista Sophia Domancich e da tre membri dei Mujician (il trombettista Paul Dunmall, il bassista Paul Rogers e il batterista Tony Levin) registrano Silent Knowledge (Cuneiform, 1996), che contiene quattro lunghe improvvisazioni (i 28 minuti di Gualchos, i 14 minuti di Sound Awake, gli 11 minuti di First in the Wagon, e i 14 di Trains for Tooting).

Dean ha anche suonato con Pip Pyle nei suoi Out.

Dean forma poi il British Saxophone Quartet con Dunmall, Simon Picard e George Haslam e registrano Early October, Neologie Musicale, Time to Go Now, che saranno pubblicate su Early October (Slam, 1996).

Rumours of an Incident (Slam, 1997) è una collaborazione con il trombonista Roswell Rudd, che contiene The Incident e The Goosebumps.

Elton Dean, il trombonista Roswell Rudd e Keith Tippett con l'ensemble Mujician registrano Bladik (Cuneiform, 1997), che contiene tre jams: Forearmed, Too Suchmuchness, 'K Ad Lib.

Three's Company Two's A Crowd (Culture Press, 1997) riesuma tracce inedite datate 1979.

Dean suona anche su Elephants In Your Head (Voiceprint, 1997), accreditato ai Mashu (il percussionista Shyamal Maitra, Hopper, Hewins e Dean).

La big band di Dean, i Newsense (Slam, 1998), successori dei Ninesense dei '70, includono tre trombonisti (Rutherford, Rudd, Annie Whitehead), il trombettista Jim Dvorak, il pianista Alex Maguire, e una sezione ritmica guidata da un violoncello.

Into The Nierika (Blueprint, 1998) contiene tre jams improvvisate con un batterista e un bassista, poi evolute su Headless Quartet (Culture Press, 1998).

The Mind In The Trees (Voiceprint, 1988) è un live-in-studio del quartetto composto da Dean, Hopper, Vince Clarke (batteria) e Frances Knight (tastiere) e contiene alcune delle sue migliori musiche: The Utsk-Kutsk Ostinato, Leaves On The Line, Sank Evan, Lightening Up Time.

Dopo One To One (Slam, 1999), un'altra colaborazione col pianista Howard Riley, Dean assembla vecchi e nuovi collaboratori per registrare QED (Blueprint, 2000), che mostra segni di assimilazione di acid-jazz e trip-hop (Hammond X, Altored Strait New Roads, Quartered, the 20-minute Deep Crease).

Moorsong (Cuneiform, 2001), registrato nel 1999, presenta cinque jams organistiche (guidate da Alex Maguire), in particolare Willie The Knee e Baker's Treat, e due delle sue tipiche improvvisazioni free-form realizzate col bassista Fred Baker, Hewins e Sanders (Reel Welders, Soldering On). La title-track è dedicata a Syd Barrett.

Bar Torque (MoonJune, 2001) contiene tre duetti con il chitarrista MIDI Mark Hewins che sono per lo più mostre del suono alieno prodotto dalla chitarra MIDI (Bar Torque, Sylvan, Merlin's Cave).

Keith Tippett, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper e John Marshall formano anche i SoftWare.


Elton Dean's historical lineup with Harry Beckett (trumpet), Harry Miller (bass) and Louis Moholo (drums) is also documented on the posthumous Ninesense Suite (june 1981) and Natal (april 1982).

The double-disc The 100 Club Concert, London March 5th 1979 documents Elton Dean's Ninesense: Alan Skidmore (tenor and soprano saxes), Harry Beckett (flugelhorn & trumpet), Mark Charig (cornet and tenor horn), Nick Evans and Radu Malfatti (both on trombone), Keith Tippett (piano), Harry Miller (bass), and Louis Moholo (drums).

The double-disc Remembrance (february 2004 - NoBusiness, 2013) documents sessions with Elton Dean (alto sax), Paul Dunmall (tenor sax), Paul Rogers (bass) and Tony Bianco (drums).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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