Elton Dean

El Skid

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Elton Dean has recorded a lot in the 1970s. Many of these LPs are forgotten gems of Canterbury-style fusion jazz, and they have been resurfacing one by one during the late '90s/early 2000s, thanks to labels like Cuneiform and Voiceprint. The latter reissued El Skid, a 1977 session with saxophonist Alan Skidmore (of Kate Bush fame), acoustic bassist Chris Laurence, and once-Soft Machine alumni drummer John Marshall. This quartet feels like a shared Dean/Skidmore project (something enhanced by the album title). The saxophonists share writing credits equally and take the same room in term of solo space. "Dr. Les Mosses" kicks things into gear with a hot fusion number the likes of Soft Machine circa 4: challenging yet frantically swinging. Skidmore tears open his tenor sax in this one. "First in the Attic" and "Thats for Cha," the two numbers penned by Dean, boil things down to something quieter, leaving room for Laurence to shine. The melody and the rhythm in "Thats for Cha" have a Monk-esque quality (circa Hackensack). "K and A Blues" takes an even more conservative form, a head-solo-head number any post-Parker jazzman could have written. If the compositions are not top quality, the rhythm section works like a charm, and on the strength of the opening track alone, fans of the Canterbury scene will want to hear El Skid. Newcomers to Dean's solo career will have more fun with Just Us from the same era.

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