Elton Dean's Ninesense

Elton Dean's Ninesense: Live at the BBC

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Since Elton Dean's Ninesense only recorded two albums, this 55-minute CD of two BBC sessions adds a great deal to the body of audio documentation of this outfit. The first of the sessions, from May 19, 1975, was recorded ten months before they did the first album, and includes in the lineup original pocket trumpeter Mongezi Feza, who did not appear on either of Ninesense's LPs. (Feza, in fact, died six months after the session.) The four songs from the first session are very much in the larger-than-normal-ensemble free jazz mode, though a skewed be-bop influence is also apparent, particularly in "Bidet Bebop," and in Feza's solo on "Dance." It's much in keeping with the free jazz innovations of New York musicians from the late 1960s and early 1970s, though Ninesense add their own touches with the idiosyncratic tone of Dean's saxello and Keith Tippett's rippling piano. At times this approaches almost conventional, mellow, big band melodicism, particularly in "Sweet Francesca," yet at others it delves into almost atonal swells and improvisation. The second of the sessions, from March 17, 1978, was recorded after the group's second album, with a slightly altered lineup, Nick Evans coming in for Radu Malfatti as one of the two trombonists, and Feza replaced on trumpet by Harry Beckett. This date was done eight months after the second LP, and of the two songs, the rumbling 15-minute "Nicra" is the band at their more challenging and avant-garde. "Seven for Me," however, veers again toward the more melodic, conventionally riff-driven sound, though it still verges on the free in some of the soloing. Note, incidentally, that although at a casual glance it might appear that this has much material not on the group's two 1970s albums, several of the songs appeared on those albums under different titles; "Dancin'" and "Soothing" made it onto Oh for the Edge as "Dance" and "Forsoothe," while "Nicra" and "Seven for Me" got into Happy Daze as "Nicrotto" and "Seven for Lee."