Elton Dean, the hugely impressive horn player in Soft Machine, never received the popular accolades and rewards he so richly deserved in his lifetime, but that's so frequently a given in the making and playing of truly fine musics that it hardly need be commented upon. We'll take the crime as signatory of the too-oft coarse nature of the herd and move on. The Unbelievable Truth, a live CD, is a document of one of his last gigs before passing on in 2006.
In this date, Dean was already in shaky health, though you'd scarcely know it, given the high level of dexterity and invention illustrated. Even more unusual is the fact that the band and he had never rehearsed before the actual concert, though they'd studied each other's music and independently played against scores exchanged. The Wrong Object writes its own stuff and includes a repertoire of Zappa compositions, so they ain't exactly yer average workaday musicians, bubba. The members display not only great chops but a deep resonant feel for texture and coloration, and the drummer, Laurent Delchambre, is particularly impressive, a rolling instrumental conversationalist of wide perspicacity and brilliant inflection.
Many solos are granted throughout the menu, and they prove to be the joy of the session, a flexing of mind and muscle that Elton always shone in. Right from the start, in Seven for Lee, he blows lines that illuminate and dance in mad antic élan, and when everyone comes back together at the conclusion, it's magnetic (though too short!; they could've extended that segment like old Weather Report concert serialism and left the audience even more breathless). However, the ensemble interplay is just as absorbing, and Millenium Jumble capitalizes on it. While Dean goes delightfully crazy above them, the rest of the band is changing up all over the place, mixing, matching, diverting, abstracting, and squonking.
If you haven't gotten into Dean outside Soft Machine, this may be the best ingress point. Every cut here is solid and fascinating, expressions of zenith musicianship in a collage of outside jazz, jazz, prog, arabesque, avant, noise, and similar "difficult" musics drug out to the horizon. In seven long excursions, there's so much room for everything that you're best advised to just sit back and let it wash over you. Like a powerful tide, you'll be carried far out to sea, wallowing in every minute of the experience.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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