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DEAN WATSON

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Canada


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Dean Watson biography
Dean Watson is a Toronto, Canada based multi-instrumentalist who was inspired by his mother at a young age while listening to her playing standards on the piano. Since then he has played everything from country to latin but prefers progressive jazz fusion and started his first progressive rock band, AirKraft, in the late 1970's. He has attained Grade 10 level Royal Conservatory piano in addition to grade 2 music theory and has been actively involved in music education. Along the way he has owned just about every keyboard known to humankind but has sold most of them, retaining only a small subset of his once massive arsenal. Among his varied guitars he also plays his own homebuilt models. In early 2008 he entered into a collaboration with drummer / percussionist extraordinaire Barry Connors ( Coney Hatch, Lee Aaron ) with whom he had played with in AirKraft. Together they formed a crazed progressive fusion jazz experiment that also gave nods to 70s progrock called Where's The Nine ( see separate PA entry ) and released a CD appropriately titled " Desensitized To Insanity " on the Toronto based Cyclone Records label that also includes other noted Canadian artists on their roster such as Steve Negus ( ex- Saga ) and Holly Woods formerly of the prog / pop band Toronto.

Dean's most recent project, " Unsettled ", is another collaboration but with a different approach. Again drawing musical inspirations from 70s fusion jazz and progrock, this time he imagined his music from a single painting by prolific Canadian artist / sculptor Ron Eady entitled " Unsettled". Eady's unpredictable work has appeared internationally in exhibitions, publications as well as in various public and private collections. Watson's musical interpretations and concepts were spawned by hours of staring at the haunting expressionist-like work and the result, although not as inflamed as the Where's The Nine project, it is nonetheless technically out of this world with Watson handling all instrumentation ( keyboards, guitars, drums, percussion, et al) , recording, mixing and mastering.

Slated for release sometime in the second half of 2010 '' Unsettled " holds appeal for all those who miss the fusion jazz and progrock of the glorious seventies and can be heard in it's entirety on Dean Watson's myspace linked below. In the meantime another Dean Watson concoction is in the works based on another enigmatic Ron Eady painting yet to be disclosed. .

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Imposing ElementsImposing Elements
CD Baby 2012
Audio CD$12.18
$17.30 (used)
UnsettledUnsettled
CD Baby 2012
Audio CD$13.36
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DEAN WATSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.82 | 41 ratings
Unsettled
2010
4.03 | 116 ratings
Imposing Elements
2012

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DEAN WATSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On Imposing Elements multi-instrumentalist Dean Watson brings back fusion as though it had never left us! Updating the stylistic approach of 1970s fusioneers with fresh compositions, modern equipment, and a dazzling range of different moods from the intense to the whimsical (there's a "meowing cat" effect at parts on 16 Feet Below which is quite fun), it's like the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Caravan and mid-1970s King Crimson got together to jam.

Apparently, Dean gets the inspiration for his albums from the artwork of his collaborator Ron Eady, and here Watson certainly captures the unnerving atmosphere of the industrial landscape Eady has captured on the cover but also the sunniness of that charming blue sky up the top there. Fusion fans take note: one of the best practitioners of the form we have today is selling his work on Bandcamp for an absolute steal.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

3 stars This Dean Watson album, Imposing Elements (2012) is a weird one to me.

The album itself is an instrumental effort, and usually, instrumental music doesn't have any appeal to me. But here on this album we have some strong compositions.

Anyway, even if it's a strong album it doesn't go beyond the realms of the averageness. It doesn't really go anywhere. I like the Jazz Rock feel you have on the album, but for my personal taste the album doesn't go that far away to be called a masterpiece as many here are claiming.

Imposing Elements (2012) is a good album with Jazz Rock feeling and it's nice to hear it, but after some time, nothing really stands out here.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars Wonderful music, full of beautiful melodies and catchy hooks, twists and turns, from this talented multi-instrumentalist. I think what brings me in the most about this album is the way that it deftly crosses and fuses the prog/jazz line. What turns me slightly off is the not quite top-notch engineering, mixing, and production. There is a kind of lack of bleed and background with regards to shifts and changes within songs that, to me, denotes multi-track single artist. There are several artists out there right now doing self-produced self-performed multi-instrumental music (Trurl, David Minasian, The Psychedelic Ensemble, Domina Catrina Lee, Stephen Desbiens, and Pat Metheny and Steven Wilson, [kind of], come to mind immediately) . Dean is good but not yet great on the production side of things. A really excellent listen, start to finish, so long as you don't put the headphones on and give it your 100%.

Favorite songs: "Past Present" (6:47) (9/10); Pendulum" (6:31) (8/10), and; "New Resolution" (8:38) (8/10).

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Imposing Elements" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Canadian jazz/fusion artist Dean Watson. The album is a self-released affair, created, produced and mastered by Dean Watson. "Imposing Elements" is a music/art collaboration between Dean Watson and artist Ron Eady. The latterīs painting (which has the same title as the album and has inspired Dean Watson to write the music) graces the album cover. This method was also the case with "Unsettled (2010)", which also features a cover artwork with a painting by Ron Eady.

The music on the album is what Iīd call adventurous jazz/fusion with edgy rythm work and keyboards and guitars providing lead themes and solos. Dean Watson is a regular one-man army delivering tight performances on all instruments. The music can be both dark and atmospheric (at times even ambient) and more edgy and powerful too (there are even some chunky metallic sounding riffs on the album although they are not dominant). One of the great assets of the music (at least to my ears) are the memorable themes. While there are plenty of soloing for those who enjoy that, the fact that Watson always returns to something relatively hook laden is something I much appreciate. I think the music on "Imposing Elements" features a good balance between accessibility and challenging itīs audience.

"Imposing Elements" is another great release by Dean Watson and while there are a few sections I find a bit too "new age" sounding for my personal taste, the album overall comes off very intriguing. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is warranted.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Imposing Elements' - Dean Watson (8/10)

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the music of Dean Watson through a promo of his debut, the impressive 'Unsettled'. Although the jazzier side of progressive rock had rarely been something I was really engaged with, there was something about Dean's highly composition-based style of jazz guitar that kept me coming back to 'Unsettled', an album I still think upon fondly today. Although there may have been scarcely a sound out of media in anticipation for Dean Watson's second record, it was something I was quite excited for. As a successful sophomore is prone to do, his 2012 effort 'Imposing Elements' develops upon the themes offered by the debut, fleshing out the ambition and providing an even more stirring experience than the first. Dean Watson has fashioned another highly emotional and captivating piece of music with 'Imposing Elements'.

For the many who may not have yet heard Dean Watson's music, the 'prog fusion' label his work has received does it a fundamental justice, although it does not get across the sort of dreamlike emotions his music is filled with. Dean is a guitarist first and foremost, and it may not be out of place to liken him to a more composition-oriented Joe Satriani, or Steve Vai-type player. I have rarely personally been a fan of the 'guitar virtuoso' albums, often finding them to be expressions of the artist's ego rather than their soul. It's refreshing that Watson is such a laid player, only occasionally letting his guitar rip through the rest of the sound, but most often sitting back while the rest of his instrumentation does the work.

Composition really is the heart, soul, blood, liver, and gastrointestinal tract of 'Imposing Elements'. The song structures have a preference for exploring many different ideas in a single song, but very little in a given composition feels as if it could be rightfully amputated from the rest. Whether Dean Watson is leading the music through his guitar or synthesizer, the melodies are each unique and powerful, even sounding a tad weird over the jazzy chord structures. The greatest evidence to Watson's excellence as a composer is that each song manages to sound unique from the others, each leaving its own impression on the listener before it's done. '16 Feet Below' is a particularly engaging track, opening with an only slightly unsettling jazz line before diving into a darkly surreal mesh of melodic tenderness and King Crimson-like dissonance. 'Of Age' is another of my favourite cuts from the record, fusing progressive metal with some of his most beautiful guitar leads.

Dean Watson is a master of rock composition with 'Imposing Elements', although- as was also true for the debut- the execution is not quite as brilliant. As a musician, Watson is a fantastic guitarist with a real ear for merging melody and technical flair effortlessly. The piano and synth tracks are also executed admirably. The rest of the sound however- with particular regards to the programmed drums- sounds like a backing track that you might find in a guitar exercise booklet. For such inspiring writing, it feels like something of a letdown to hear the dull thud of a drum machine, convenience and budgetary concerns regardless. To his credit, the drum machine is programmed very well, with plenty of intriguing switches and fills to lift it above mere pacemaking duty. Even so, Watson bears the brunt of the natural setbacks of home recording; the sound feels inconsistent and dulled in parts, although Dean cannot be held to blame for this.

As I was expecting, 'Imposing Elements' is an impressive album that finds an easy recommendation from me to fans of instrumental rock. Although a few unfortunate limitations keep the album from resonating as an 'essential' prog fusion album, Watson's talent for composition is nothing short of excellent. 'Imposing Elements' overshadows his previous work with 'Unsettled', and rightfully takes its place as one of the most acclaimed progressive releases of the year.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It's not my prerogative to start my reviews with a title but if I would have done that with this album it would have been "perfect fusion" or something like that. Because that's what we are talking about with Dean Watsons second release. Right now the album has the status of "essential: masterpiece of progressive rock" and quite rightly so I would say. After first listening I was already convinced of a rating minimal 4,5 stars but after 5 spins it has even gone up towards 4,5-5 indeed some 4,75.

Dean has increased the measure of fusion grade compared with his debut and is now on the same level as with his previous project WHERE'S THE NINE. In fact this release is largely comparable with Desensitized... with the remark that Imposing Elements is more accessible. And added to that one could say that the accessibility shouldn't be confused with simplicity here because the compositions are complex enough but somehow they are so neately done that it becomes extremely pleasant for the ear. Composition to perfection is another title that comes to mind for this album.

My admiration for Dean's accomplishments were already very high but of his efforts last few years I rank this one highest, by far even. Desensitized was already around the 4,5 mark and Unsettled somewhere around 4,25-4,5 stars for me. I don't know how he does it but he managed to turn it up a notch with Imposing Elements which can only mean the perfect score as far as I'm concerned. I'm getting curious what his next release will be like. Beware !

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by jampa17
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Amazing, just amazing...

This album made the same impression for me as the last one. It's just unbelievable that a single musician can play that many instruments as good as him, and do it with taste, sense, and soul. Just like the first, this is a flawless album with all the elements to be tasted by jazz, prog metal and regular music fans.

Dean Watson has amazing skills, but also infuse magic into his compositions. When you stare at the painting that inspired the music, you could hardly come with that much amount of ideas, all well balanced with beautiful melodies, great riffs, wonderful drums and some interesting bass lines. Really, it all sounds like a complete band with many years of understanding.

You have to close eyes and enjoy this musical ride. I won't describe each song. You have to listen to it as a whole piece and just taste the music. The mix and production is wonderful. This is how all the albums should sound, with space for every instrument to develop a feeling. It's just perfect

I give a 5 star review because I don't find anything weak to point at. I really hope that all the lovers of Jazz fusion and prog metal fans could come with open mind and try this amazing album. This one will blow your mind away for sure.

I'm really excited by this album. He really reach magic with these Imposing Elements...

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In one word: Flawless

With second album named Imposing elements released couple of month before in february 2012 - Dean Watson really done it big time. If the first album was great, this sophomore release is flawless in everyway. This is one of the best musicians in last years in jazz fusion world, what he done on these two albums released so far is absolutly essential to have, both fans of jazz fusion and progressive rock will have plenty of memorable passages here. I thing that must be pointed aut is that all the music from Imposing elements was created/produced/mastered by Dean Watson himself, this is not an easy task, but in the end he succeded 100%. Complex progressive jazz fusion with some spectacular moments like on opening track Past present who really sets the mood for entire album. Another highlight for me is Feet below with some brilliant chorus at the end of the piece, fantastic and the more progressive jazz metal tune Of Age with some progressive metal mood but combined very efficient with the jazz fusion elements, in the end a spectacular piece. No weak moments here only highlights, balanced album, DEan Watson really shine on every piece. I don't know if is better then his first who was already a great release, but for sure is in same league, that means in Premier League for sure. 4 stars easy and recommended one of the better albums in last years in this field. This type of jazz fusion is right down on my alley and for that I can only recommend to get it from cdbaby in digital format, no CD this time.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Vibrationbaby

4 stars Instrumental concept pieces are nothing new. From Gustav Holst to Chick Corea composers / musicians have endeavoured to express their thoughts and visions through the medium of musical language. Dean Watson's latest " Imposing Elements " CD is a bit more abstract. It incontrovertably requires some outside of the box imagination in order to fully appreciate his attempt to interpret, musically, a singular piece of artwork by contemporary artist Ron Eady. Watson faces a daunting gauntlet of challenge here ; making a lot out of a little just as he did with his previous " Unsettled " album, another Eady / Watson collaboration. If the album cover featuring Ead'y's intimidating industrial-like image didn't have "Dean Watson Imposing Elements " written on it one might be decieved into thinking that this was the latest release from Rammstein or Nine Inch Nails.

But for those familiar with Watson's previous works will know that it is time to strap into the ejection seat for another fusion roller coaster ride. Again, Watson plays everything masterfully with emphasis on different combinations of keyboards that seem to be his weapons of choice. It can sound a bit clinical at times but Watson's bass work adds warmth and depth. He knows when it is not required and sometimes will substite lower end piano keys when he feels it is more appropriate. Watson reveals many of his influences throughout the work as well ( he's been at this for almost 40 years! ) and the most obvious ones I could pick out were McLaughlin, Metheny, Floyd and Miles amongst others. The drumwork is a frankenstein cross between Cobham and Bruford and like everything else is razor sharp in execution. Like the previous " Unsettled " I can't help but thinking of Bruford's 1979 " One Of A Kind " album especially on the final track New Resolution where breifly, unless my ears are playing tricks on me, the ghost of Oscar Peterson shows up! While I might be clutching at straws with these correlations, in the end it's Watson all the way with his unique interpretive powers.

Perhaps being a vestige of the 1970s and prior, I am probably tending to surgically deconstruct the work more than I should but everything works as a whole here. The fact that Watson does everything himself adds another dimension to the work. It seems like a constant rearrangement of ideas based on the painting until everything fits. He doesn't have the competition of other musicians or an engineer bickering over chords, key changes, time signatures etc. I might add that the production is impeccable as well. I recently reviewed an otherwise excellent album that was produced by seasoned professionals and it was as if the bass wasn't even there at times much to the chagrin of the band. Everything is in perfect balance here and Watson doesn't go off the deep end anywhere and even manages some brave speed guitar runs.

A very unique concept album of well thought out collection of alternate ( musical ) interpretations of a trancendental painting that each have their individual arrangements, moods and dynamics. Even if one wants to discard it's metaphysical aspects "Imposing Elements " is another fusion delight that invites multiple listens on the headphones.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.03 | 116 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Dean Watson's 'Imposing Elements' is a jazz prog odyssey of scintillating music.

Dean's followup to "Unsettled" is another jazz feast with touches of metal and symphonic prog that is rather relaxing and a great album to put on after a hard day at work. It is soothing and features accomplished musicianship enough to satiate the appetite of any music lover who is into keyboard driven heavy prog with jazz nuances.

The keyboard wizardry on such tracks as '16 Feet Below' is tremendous, with strong bass embellishments and interchanging time sigs. The music is definitely uplifting and features dynamic arrangements, the drumming being a key feature. This track is my favourite on the album, I love the jazz threads merging with prog elements and superb keyboard work throughout.

'Past Present' opens preceedings with minimalist keyboard and spacey atmospheres. The dissonant tones create an ethereal soundscape like Pink Floyd. Keyboards dominate but the layer of rhythmic percussion and bass is a nice foundation to build upon. There are ambient key pads beneath and the tempo changes soon in to a faster cadence and a variation of tones as a synth and lead guitar trade off solos.

Another highlight is found on 'Underpass' with cymbals, vibraphone and piano dominating until a lead guitar takes over. Then a distorted riffing guitar breaks through the light weight music. The jazz fusion sound is terrific with odd time shifts and space for each instrument to breathe, all played virtuoso by Dean Watson.

'Push Too' has some quirky vibes and a funky bassline as a synth swells along a disjointed melody. I like the way the dirtier guitar riff drowns out the synths, and then a vibrant lead solo soars over it all in the style of Andy Latimer.

'Pendulum' has a symphonic edge with music that drifts along as though swinging back and forth, hence the title. The lead guitar sings sweetly as the music builds along a graceful keyboard motif. Swathes of mellotron and jazz piano permeate the atmosphere and it seems to be ascending higher until it breaks into a passage of piano fortissimo. A beautiful piece of music to wrap your ears around.

After all the melancholy tranquillity, 'Depth Charge' submerges into a jazzy ominous piano motif. The darker sounds are portentous that something will explode. It does as the paroxysm of metal guitar lead thunder and synth lightning takes over. The lead work is fiery and follows a complex bass and synth. The drums are sporadic at this point and full of emotive power, with hi hat work and cymbal splashes like waves crashing up on the boat. The imagery is conjured by the arrangements carefully amalgamated with the tension and release of light and dark shades, slow and fast tempos.

'Of Age' has a metal distortion riff and is blended well with colourful mellotron ambience. It locks into some odd time sigs, and progressive building blocks of synth lines and guitar phrases. The guitar riff is simple but effective. The next section is a layered keyboard break and it settles into a rhythmic section as a lead guitar howls over. The acoustic flourishes are effective and the chimes as the sig changes again into a faster more urgent pattern. Guitar blazes away with finesse sounding again like Latimer. One more time change and a return to the main riff bookends this sensational track in a blaze of glory.

The album ends on the longest track, 'New Resolution', beginning with impactive jazz piano reminding me of Miles Davis 'Freddie Freeloader' from 'A Kind of Blue'. As with that track, this feels like walking down a rain soaked street at night with the neon lights dancing off the soaked roads. It is up tempo and entrancing with powerful keyboards including a delightful shimmering Hammond sound. The strong jazz tones are augmented with off eat patterns and lead guitar phrases.

Thus the journey ends on a high note and this album is as good if not better than Watson's debut. The music is always compelling and moves in many directions enough to maintain interest. Watson plays well on all instruments and is a fine arranger. The album is well produced, with high quality sound and is certainly an instrumental album well worth seeking out.

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