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Elton Dean Quintet
Welcomet: Live in Brazil
THERE are three incomparable horn heroes of British jazz on this marvellous album, recorded live in concert in Sao Paulo while they were touring Brazil in 1986.
The first is Bajan-born trumpeter Harry Beckett, who arrived in London as a teenager and never stopped amazing his listeners and the second is extraordinary reedman Elton Dean, playing alto saxophone and saxello on this album, who played with Long John Baldry's blues band and jazz rockers the Soft Machine before setting himself loose on the jazz scene.
The third is mercurial trombone genius Paul Rutherford, always seen with a Morning Star sticking out of his pocket. A pioneer free jazzman of the multisonics of the slide, he was a member of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Iskra, Mike Westbrook's Brass Band and the London Jazz Composers' Orchestra. When he died in 2007 his horns were bequeathed to the young musicians of Cuba.
With them at this concert are Rio de Janeiro-born bassist Marcio Mattos and drummer Liam Genockey, a Dubliner who played with alto saxophonist Trevor Watts in his bands Amalgam and Moire Music.
Both musicians are still very active, performing and recording, and Mattos's new album SOL(os), entirely comprised of cello and bass solos, with his own electronics accompaniments, has recently been released on the Emanem label.
The Welcomet album expresses the jubilation of a concert featuring Europe-based horn men playing in a nation famed for and permeated with its very own exultant and festive sound and the 40-minute-plus opener Welcomet begins with a long solo from a euphoric and buoyant Rutherford, a south Londoner on fire in Brazil's largest city. His unique and astonishing slidework, inducing complex patterns and rhythms from his horn is accompanied by Genockey's crashing drums.
Accompanied by Mattos's pulsing bass, next to solo is Dean on saxello, with its quasi-Asiatic and carping tone leaping from note to note. On his heels comes a crackling Beckett, his lightning phrases sharp and incisive, with Mattos's bass playing a subterranean dance of a chorus warmly received by the audience, before Genockey's drums complete a first series of solos and the quintet moves into ensemble mode.
Dean's second solo is bristling with melody inside every moment of improvisation, as Rutherford returns beside Mattos in a colloquy of continents and Beckett's Caribbean ardour begins as a gentle flame before an extended ensemble eventually takes the theme home.
The second track Rio Rules, close on 35 minutes, starts with Genockey's effervescent drums before Beckett and Mattos come throbbing in, the sharp edges of the trumpeter's sound razoring the air. Rutherford's ascendant slides continue the momentum with Genockey's fiery cymbals until the Rio bassist takes a long and eloquent solo, almost as if he were offering a praise song to his birth city.
After a long horn confabulation, drums and bass sit it out and the three kindred horn men exchange their own discourse of breath and sound.
As a listener you wonder what they are saying to each other within their sounds — for what expression there is of marvel and amazement, realising where they are and who is their audience, having grown accustomed to London pub venues where sometimes they played to only a score of avid listeners.
This precious album shows just how far free music can take you and how it can reach out to people on the other side of the globe.
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