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Album Review

Moorsong, saxophonist Elton Dean's fourth recording for Cuneiform, is comprised of three very different sessions. The bulk of the album (the first five tracks) showcases Dean with Alex Maguire (Hammond organ), Fred T. Baker (bass), and Liam Genockey (drums). This set sounds a lot like Medeski, Martin & Wood (their Ryko years). These sunny upbeat grooves driven by raunchy organ are quite unexpected. ("John's Fragment," with its 9/8 bass motif, could have been written by Hugh Hopper!) "Baker's Treat" is a slow bop number with a spotlight for the bassist — nice job. "Bedrock Ruse" is a straight blues-jazz number, while "Full Fathom Five" comes back to MM&W funkiness. The next two tracks take a completely different direction. Recorded by Dean, Baker, guitarist Mark Hewins, and free jazz drummer Mark Sanders, these are moody free improvisations with more room left for Dean to shine. "Soldering On" deserves a special mention: a beautiful slow-paced improv ending with Sanders on timpani. The last piece, "Moorsong," is a strange duet between Dean and Hewins. The latter's playing is inspired by Syd Barrett and Dean tries to fit something in. It doesn't work very well and the sound quality is subpar on this particular track. Overall, Moorsong is a mixed bag. Some will like this generally lighter side of the saxophonist, but one thing is certain: most listeners will be surprised. Let's just say there are more essential Elton Dean records. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: October 28, 1945 in Nottingham, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

British saxophonist Elton Dean was one of the key figures in British free jazz for decades. Closely affiliated with the Canterbury scene, Dean -- born in Nottingham on October 28, 1945 -- had a résumé far more varied and than that tag would describe. Dean began his professional career with Long John Baldry's Bluesology in 1967 -- the pianist in that band was Reginald Dwight, who found later stardom under the Elton John stage name formed by combining the "Elton" from Elton Dean and "John" from Long...
Full bio
Moorsong, Elton Dean
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jan 15, 2001

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