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Rumours of an Incident

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Album Review

In which the Canterbury saxophone earl meets the prince of the trombone underground with a rhythm section in tow, this CD is a recording of most of the second concert of a weeklong engagement of the Elton Dean Quartet, with special guest Roswell Rudd. Rudd and Dean hadn't played together since 1977, when the pair met during a joint stint of Dean's band and Carla Bley's. The set is broken up into two parts: the first 41 minutes is the first set in its entirety, and the second piece, "The Goosebumps," is 16 minutes from the tail end of the second. Curious editing, but, nonetheless, this is compelling listening. Riveting even. It is difficult to believe, given the easy and nearly symbiotic repartee Dean and Rudd have — especially on "The Incident," that they hadn't played together in nearly 20 years. Rudd's swinging vanguardism is in sharp contrast to Dean's angular, scalar investigations, but somehow they sidle together in a complimentary and quizzical fashion. Perhaps the bridge is in the solid rhythm section of pianist Alex Maguire, bassist Marcio Mattos, and drummer Mark Sanders. Rudd carries the heat of the proceeding, turning it up a notch ever three or four minutes, or as Dean flips the legato on for more of that knotty biting he does in harmonic inquiry. As Rudd cranks it, Dean backs off to consider and Maguire offers him bits and pieces of a rhythmic and tonal possibility, as the other two wait and watch, playing reactively rather than proactively, which is fine with this much activity going on. When Dean does re-enter the fray, it's to move Rudd's ideas, not vertically, but horizontally along the plane. But either way — up, down, or sideways — it moves with greased lightning and plenty of soul. This is a winner.

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