Elton Dean

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Elton Dean
Background information
Born (1945-10-28)28 October 1945
Nottingham, England
Origin Tooting, London, England
Died 8 February 2006(2006-02-08) (aged 60)
London, England
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, record producer
Instruments Saxophone, saxello, keyboards
Years active 1966–2006
Associated acts Bluesology, Keith Tippett, Soft Machine, The Wrong Object

Elton Dean (28 October 1945 – 8 February 2006) was an English jazz musician who performed on alto saxophone, saxello (a variant of the soprano saxophone) and occasionally keyboards.


Dean was born Nottingham, England, moving to Tooting, London, soon after his birth.[1] From 1966 to 1967, Dean was a member of the band Bluesology, led by Long John Baldry. The band's pianist, Reginald Dwight, afterward combined Dean's and Baldry's first names for his own stage name, Elton John.[2]

Dean established his reputation as a member of the Keith Tippett Sextet from 1968 to 1970, and in the band Soft Machine from 1969 to 1972.[2] Shortly before leaving Soft Machine he started his own group, Just Us.[3]

From 1975 to 1978 he led a nine-piece band called Ninesense,[3] performing at the Bracknell Jazz Festival and similar events. His own groups since then, usually quartets or quintets, have most often worked in the free jazz mode, with little or no pre-composed material such as Soft Heap with Mark Hewins.[4] At the same time, he continued to work with other groups that are very composition-based, such as guitarist Phil Miller's In Cahoots, drummer Pip Pyle's Equipe Out,[3] and various projects with former Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper.

In 2002, Dean and three other former Soft Machine members (Hugh Hopper, drummer John Marshall, and guitarist Allan Holdsworth) toured and recorded under the name Soft Works.[5] With another former Soft Machine member, guitarist John Etheridge, replacing Holdsworth, they subsequently toured and recorded as Soft Machine Legacy, playing some pieces from the original Soft Machine repertoire as well as new works.[2] Featuring Dean, three albums of the Legacy have been released: Live in Zaandam (CD, rec. 2005/05/10), New Morning - The Paris Concert (DVD, rec. 2005/12/12) and the studio album Soft Machine Legacy (CD, 2006, rec. 2005).

Dean's last musical collaborations also included those with Soft Bounds, a quartet composed of Dean, Hugh Hopper, Sophia Domancich and Simon Goubert, and also with Alex Maguire's project Psychic Warrior.[6]

Dean died on 8 February 2006 after more than a year of "heart and liver problems," on the day before he was to join a reunion of Soft Machine.[2]


  1. ^ Bennett 2005, pp. 176-177.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Independent Obituaries - Elton Dean". London. 13 February 2006. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Fordham, John (10 February 2006). "The Guardian Obituary: Elton Dean". London. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Stephen Yarwood, Elton Dean interview, Facelift ("issue 20 - the issue that never happened!").
  5. ^ Bennett 2005, p. 398.
  6. ^ "Psychic Warrior". Hux Records. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 


  • Bennett, Graham (2005). Soft Machine: Out-Bloody-Rageous. London: SAF Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0 946719 84 5. 

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