During his lifetime, British saxophone great Elton Dean made a huge impact, hearkening back to those historic days with Soft Machine and his contributions to British free, modern and progressive jazz-rock movements. Dean performed with the crème de la crème of international artistes prior to his passing on Feb 8th 2006, as this live recording with a Belgian band stands as one of his final concerts.
Recorded at a Paris venue on Oct 18th, 2005., Dean commences the festive proceedings with his hauntingly beautiful piece titled "Seven For Lee," which is a minor-classic to most of his aficionados. With an underlying ostinato melody, Dean solos over the top with equal parts, beauty and power. And throughout various movements, tenor saxophonist Fred Deplancq and trumpeter Jean-Paul Estievenart exchange scorching lines with the leader to complement works constructed upon softly-woven themes. And with traces of classic British jazz-rock, the septet renders stately choruses and vigorous rhythmic maneuvers.
Dean’s interlacing notes on "Baker’s Treat," are designed with soul and conviction atop drummer Laurent Delchambre’s syncopated brush work and e-guitarist Michel Delville’s raspy-toned chord voicings. Then on "The Unbelievable Truth," bassist Damien Polard lifts something out of Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper’s playbook, with his monstrously resonating fuzz-bass lines. Here, contrast abound as the saxophonists soar towards boundless vistas and fiercely climactic opuses, accelerated by Delville’s distortion-heavy progressions. Elsewhere, the band executes up-tempo jazz waltz motifs and spirited swing vamps, marked with punchy horns arrangements and capaciously designed improvisational passages.
Dean’s vastly expressive musical language will keep the memories alive as supreme artists have an inimitable way of living on and sharing themselves with the future. His legacy continues onward via this jubilantly communicated and masterfully enacted program.