Nottingham-born jazz saxophonist Elton Dean died on the evening of February 7th, in a London hospital, Allaboutjazz.com has announced.
For the last year in particular he had been suffering from heart and liver related health problems. He was 60.
Dean, who began his career with Bluesology (and inspired the former Reg Dwight to change his name) gained acclaim as a member of the Keith Tippett Group, led by the English pianist and featuring the horn section of Dean, Marc Charig and Nick Evans, in 1969. Later that year, Dean, Charig and Evans were hired by Soft Machine to augment their core trio. After touring as a septet, the band was trimmed down to a quintet, then a quartet. This resulted in what many consider the classic Soft Machine line-up of Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge, Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean, which recorded Third (1970) and Fourth (1971) for CBS.
Dean left the ensemble after 1972's Fifth to devote his time to his own group, Just Us, and various jazz-oriented line-ups, many of them featuring Tippett. Over the years however, he remained associated with the Soft Machine family (also known as the Canterbury scene), often in the company of bassist Hugh Hopper, while leading his own acoustic jazz quartets and quintets.
In the past few years Dean had again been involved in a variety of Soft Machine-derived line-ups. This included Soft Machine Legacy, which recorded its debut album in September. The band members were looking forward to supporting it with a series of live performances; a live DVD, recorded in Paris last December, is also set for release later this year.