Dean Fraser

 

There are few Musicians in any genre that are synonymous with one particular instrument – but Saxophone maestro Dean Fraser, is one of those few. It is not too far-fetched to claim that if you’ve heard a piece of Reggae from Jamaica in the past forty years and there was a hint of a saxophone on it – chances are that was our Dean!!!! He has been tearing up horn sections on innumerable reggae singles, working with some of Jamaica’s legends, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, since 1978. He is considered one of Jamaica’s finest brass players and has developed an international following for his sultry jazz-toned reggae music. He was born Dean Ivanhoe Fraser in Kingston and began playing the clarinet at the National Volunteers’ Youth Organization community club at age 12. At age 15, his teacher, Babe O’Brian, introduced him to the saxophone – later mentor’s would include bassist, Jackie Jackson and the visiting Melba Liston. Fraser joined his first band, the Sonny Bradshaw 7, around 1978. It was the then rising Reggae star Jacob Miller, who re-christened him ‘Youth Sax’ and helped Fraser become popular. At the time, Miller would occasionally jam with Fraser and band while they were performing at the Sheraton Hotel. He took a liking to Fraser’s rendition of “Take Five,” and so took the young sax player to the studio. Fraser had also recorded an earlier single, “Blue Moon.” Unfortunately, a labeling mistake on the “Take Five” single named the talented new artist Jah Devon instead of Dean Fraser. “Him have all kinda name for me” – Dean would say in interviews about Miller. In the mid ’90s, he released Dean Plays Bob and Dean Plays Bob, Volume II as a tribute to the music of his long-time idol Bob Marley.

It was his rendition of Marley’s ‘’Redemption Songs’ at Reggae Sunsplash, in 1981, the year of Bob’s passing, that would cement Fraser’s position as Jamaica’s foremost hornsman. By this time he’d joined forces with Chico Chin & Nambo Robinson for what MC Tommy Cowans “dubbed” – Rass Brass – as well as his own 809 Band. Much of the 90’s was spent in the Studio as Dean led the Firehouse Crew which became the in-house aggregation for Phillip ‘Fattis’ Burrell’s Xterminator label. Fattis had put together a crew of artists and musicians which would introduce the world to the talents of the likes of Luciano & Sizzla. Fraser, was there both in Studio and on Stage as Musical Director. The Noughties saw Fraser step out of Fattis’ considerable shadow and into the limelight  as a producer in his own right with his imprint, Cannon Records. He revitalised the The Cables’ Studio One classic, ‘What Kind Of World’ for a One-Riddim project and hit with Freddie Mcgregor’s ‘I See It In You’, Sanchez’ ‘Hit Song’ and the monster – ‘Down By The River’ by Morgan Heritage.

Released by VP Records – the project ushered in a fruitful working relationship between Fraser now known as “The Cannon” and the world-renowned Distributor. By now, Fraser, the elder Statesman of Reggae, had been honoured by the Jamaican Government who bestowed upon him an Order Of Distinction (OD) as he had recorded on so many recordings that he would often quip that he’s played on everything “From Bob To Chronnixx”. Whilst working on a project with an artist from Miami, he came across the son of a friend as part of that artists’s camp. The friend was Jimmy Riley, who’s son, Tarrus was forging his own path in the Music industry. Dean would now become an artist manager and put his own Camp together with Tarrus, Duane Stephenson, Ruffi Ann and the Black SOIL Band.

With Tarrus’ ascendancy to the apex of the Reggae Mountain, The Cannon’s Star arose accordingly to this day when he has had to bring in a co-manager, Shane ‘Lion’ Brown to help with the artist Roster whilst he concentrates on the all-important music.

 

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