Dean Fraser, born Dean Ivanhoe Fraser August 4 1957, is a Jamaican saxophonist, who has contributed to hundreds of reggae recordings since the mid-1970s. Fraser started to play the clarinet initially then gradually turned to the saxophone under the tutelage of Alfred Babe O’Brian in 1969 at the National Volunteers’ Organization in Jonestown; during this time he met Ronald ‘Nambo’ Robinson and Junior ‘Chico’ Chinn, the three eventually formed a brass section and would later become the foremost horn section in Jamaica in the 1980s. Prior to this however Fraser also enrolled at the then Jamaica School of Music (Edna Manley School of the Performing Arts) from 1976-1977 under the instructions of Melba Liston. Two weeks before his 15th birthday, Fraser took to the saxophone and started playing with Sunny Bradshaw Seven. In 1977, he joined Lloyd Parks’ We The People Band, backing Dennis Brown on several of his recordings for Joe Gibbs. This was followed in 1979 by Pure Horns and Double Dynamite and in 1980 by Revolutionary sounds for producer Donovan Germain. Fraser provided horns for Sly &Robbie in the 1980s on record and on tour. In 1981, Fraser appeared on Reggae Sunsplash, performing an instrumental version of the then recently deceased Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’, this led to the 1984 album Pumping Air on Island Records’ Mango label. Fraser followed with the recording of two albums of Marley covers, Dean Plays Bob and Dean Plays Bob volume2.
The digital era did not did not affect Fraser’s output as acoustic instruments like the saxophone were still in demand. Since then, Fraser released several more albums and is dually recognized as one of Jamaica’s leading musicians. He toured extensively with Luciano from the 1995 to 2005 as well as performing on and adding production to several of the singer’s albums, including, ‘A New Day’, ‘Serious Times’ and ‘Jah Is My Keeper’. More recently Fraser has been recording, producing and touring with Tarrus Riley and Duane Stephenson. Dean Fraser has redone 16 tracks on CD 2 of We Remember Gregory Isaacs which was recorded in 2011 and Reggae Gone Country in 2011 both on VP Records. To date Fraser has 20 albums to his credit. Fraser has recorded with international acts such as Lauren Hill, Gentleman and John Legend. He has been the opening act for Gladys Knight, James Ingram, Manhattans and Peaches and Herb.
To his merit Dean Fraser received the Musgrave Medal in 1994 and the Order of Distinction in 2010, from the Government of Jamaica in recognition of his services to reggae music.