Elton Dean – alto sax | Paul Dunmall – tenor sax | Paul Rogers – bass | Tony Bianco – drums
Recorded 9th February, 2004 at Steam Room Studios, London. Recording engineer Jon Wilkinson. Photos by Gérard Rouy except photo of Tony Bianco by Christopher Trent. Mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. Design by Oskaras Anosovas. Produced by Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov
CD 1 | Trio I (Dunmall / Rogers / Bianco) 23’27” | Quartet (Dean / Dunmall / Rogers / Bianco) 37’32”
CD 2 | Duo (Rogers / Bianco) 28’30” | Trio II (Dean / Rogers / Bianco) 26’01”
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 ambience and apparently effortless mesh of this expansive well recorded studio session. It is Dean’s wiry alto saxophone along with Paul Dunmall’s brawny tenor, which provides most of the narrative thrust here, accompanied by the hypnotic pulse laid down by bassist Paul Rogers and drummer Tony Bianco. Though titled presumably in Dean’s honor, he features on only half of the 115-minute program, once in the full quartet, and once with the rhythm section, with the remainder comprising a trio with Dunmall and an outing for the rhythm team alone. Both reeds adopt a measured approach, taking their time to build up to what turn out to be fleeting crescendos, worrying phrases and turning them over to find what secrets they might reveal. At times Dean even recalls Ornette Coleman in the vocalized quality of his aching, occasionally lyrical, cries.
The 37-minute “Quartet” forms the center piece of the offering. In spite of long acquaintance, it begins with conversational probing between the horns, while Bianco roils from the off, abetted by Rogers’ feverish heartbeat. The bassist’s slashing arco drives Dunmall to a forceful, energetic excursion. Later Dean announces his entry with an electrifying wail which presages a climax of tremendous interplay. Bianco’s multidirectional tattoo proves a near constant throughout, acting as a springboard which allows the reedmen to go wherever they choose, but even on the 28-minute duo cut, the energy levels remain high. It’s a shame the permutation of just the two reeds together wasn’t documented as well, as it is the blend of these two distinctive voices which gives the album its appeal. — John Sharpe
Throughout his life saxophonist Elton Dean
had a varied number of associations and styles in which he worked with a sureness and mastery very rare. Whether straight-ahead with Harry Beckett, jazz-rock and beyond with the Soft Machine lineups, or just plain out, he did it all with grace, poise and fire.
As far as the out side is concerned you are well served by a new two-CD set of an unreleased session from 2004, appropriately titled Remembrance (No Business NBCD 59/60). Dean and a very able quartet give us extended outings. Elton plays the alto, the incandescent Paul Dunmall takes up the tenor, Paul Rogers smokes the acoustic bass, and the ever-stoking Tony Bianco gets at the drums.
It’s a sort of round-robin set. Paul takes the first number with rhythm, the full quartet goes at it for the second, the rhythm section takes it alone in the third segment and Elton joins them for a trio on the fourth.
It’s free-out jazz wall-to-wall with lots of inspiration and fire. It is a testament certainly for Elton’s way with this form, but Dunmall, Rogers and Bianco sound fabulous as well.
All I can say is you need to hear this one! — Gregory Edwards
Alto saxophonist Elton Dean
was a powerful member of the British progressive music scene from free jazz through his work with Soft Machine and its offshoots. Recorded in London during 2004 this is a stellar collective session with Paul Dunmall on tenor saxophone, Tony Bianco on drums and Paul Rogers on bass. This double disc set is made up of four lengthy performances featuring different configurations of musicians. “Trio I” opens the album with the Dean/Rogers/Bianco unit, where Dean’s alto weaves notes in calamitous fashion along with with brooding bowed bass and agile drumming. Rogers’ dexterous bowed bass adds a dark texture to the music, and coupled with Bianco’s unpredictable drumming they make for a formidable pair. Paul Dunmall’s dusky and yearning tenor joins the fray on “Quartet” using his brawny stature to develop a muscular and lean approach. The music on this performance develops some very exciting interplay of horns with thick throbbing bass and powerfully rhythmic drumming providing even more energy. Alto and tenor saxophones mix and match with varying hues, creating music that is capable of ferocious power and intensity even thought there is little or no pre-composed material. The horns are stripped out on “Duo” leaving Rogers and Bianco to develop a bass and drums conversation that is very impressive in variety and elasticity of movement. Things come full circle with the concluding “Trio II” developing an amalgamation of the discipline and refinement that builds to a thrilling collective finale. — Tim Niland
Double CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)