The remarkably versatile Roger Dean is a classical double bassist, a computer music trail-blazer a pianist active in jazz, classical, new music, free improvisation and electro-acoustic contexts in Australia and Britain. This double album spotlights his solo piano playing from 1978 to 2012, and from jazz to computer-processed performances.
Those only familiar with Dean via his heady work amid the computer-generated auras of austraLYSIS will be ambushed by the willing grooves and earthy approach of some material. Rollin’ For Harry (for the late South African bassist Harry Miller) rides on a pitch-and-sway left-hand rhythm, overlaid with melodies that explode with vivacity. There are charming pieces inspired by Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Carla Bley and Herbie Hancock, with the Evans one, Metagroove Blues, exquisite.
Gradually the nature of the work metamorphoses into more radical areas, whether in the way Dean attacks the piano or the in pre-recorded, real-time or post-production layering of effects. As these become more sophisticated in recent years so the end results are often ever more surprising and disquieting.
While a keen sense of adventuring informs the methodologies, Dean is still interested in the aesthetics of his outcomes, too. These may be crystalline or tumultuous, but always they are realised with brilliant musicianship, and with cracks where the heart is glimpsed through the intellect.