Vince Clarke / Elton Dean / Hugh Hopper / Frances Knight

The Mind in the Trees

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Elton Dean sat in with a trio of Hugh Hopper (bass guitar), Vince Clark (drums), and Francis Knight (keyboard and accordion) for a couple of hours in the winter of 1997, and these nine tracks were culled from that studio session. There is a quaint melodic quality to it all despite the obviously free forms, perhaps due to the presence of Knight, who seems to set a somewhat conservative tone. The music reflects the fine playing of the quartet, particularly that of Dean and Hopper, both of who perform with singular vision. Clarke is less impressive on drums, his rim shots occasionally seeming out of context. Dean is the main voice, and he has little trouble blowing endlessly without sacrificing creativity. Hopper lays down a generally quiet line over which the saxophonist weaves colorful, if restrained, peaks and valleys. Those who know Dean only for his fiery avant-garde style may be surprised at this less than incendiary setting, and although this is not the best showcase for his work, his inimitable voice does not disappoint.

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