Elton Dean & The Wrong Object "The Unbelievable Truth"

Elton Dean & The Wrong Object
"The Unbelievable Truth"

CD review by Roger-Z (02/16/14)

English saxophonist, Elton Dean (1945-2006), made his name with progressive rock group Soft Machine and it's successors, Soft Works and Soft Machine Legacy. The latter two included legendary guitarist Alan Holdsworth. By the way, Elton John took his name from Elton Dean and Long John Baldry when they all played together in the Sixties. Dean's work has covered the gamut from free jazz to strictly structured compositions. Belgian group The Wrong Object and Dean planned this live album, recorded in Paris at Glaz'Art on October 18, 2005, as a means for the two parties to test the waters for a more complete collaboration. The Wrong Object consists of Michel Delville (guitar, vocals), Laurent Delchambre (drums, percussion), Fred Delpancq (tenor sax), Jean-Paul Estievenart (trumpet), and Damien Polard (bass). Dean plays saxello and alto sax. Scores of Delville's music had been sent to Dean and The Wrong Object had rehearsed some Dean compositions. Their plans to rehearse the day of the gig broke down at the same time that The Wrong Object's van did! Like with many minimally rehearsed blowing sessions, the magic seemingly springs out of nowhere!

If I had to pick one word to describe this music, I would chose "snaky" for the way it glides through myriad twists and turns. The opening track, "Seven for Lee," a Dean staple, reminds me of the soundtrack from Arnold Schwartzenager's "Conan the Barbarian" -- specifically the scene where James Earl Jones morphs into a gigantic serpent. On this track as on much of the album, bass player Polard drives the bus, not the drummmer. That gives the music an indelibly slinky quality. "Cannery Catastrophe" takes the same modal concept and shifts the tempo into overdrive. Both tunes provide plenty of room for spirited soloing by saxes, trumpet and guitar. "Cunningmingus Redux" struts a sexy bass line up front with trumpet and sax lines spiraling out into the distance. Suddenly, the bass starts walking and the band leaps into overdrive only to grind to a seemingly full halt. Another Dean classic, "Baker's Treat," evokes the late Fifties lush ballads of Davis and Coltrane. Delville's title track, "The Unbelievable Truth," provides some of the most fertile blowing grounds of the session. Starting off with a funeral dirge, the music suddenly edges into belly dance territory. Finally, the guitar bursts loose in a Zappaesque frenzy followed by slithering trumpet and sax.

The pristine sound, slinky grooves, and delightful improvisation turn this one off into a must have. Combining jazz rhythms, gypsy melodies, and stunning transformations, Elton Dean & The Wrong Object leave behind a night to always remember!

2014 Roger-Z