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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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HARRY BECKETT

Maxine

ITM Archives ITM 920010

 

 


1. Bessie's Blues
2. Les Jardins du Casino
3. I Don't Want to Know
4. Amsterdam
5. Maxine
6. Cozy 'n' Rozy
7. Falling in Love with Love

Harry Beckett - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Annie Whitehead - Trombone (tracks 1, 7)
John Burgess - Flute, sax, bass clarinet (tracks 1, 7)
Mario Castronari - Bass (tracks 1, 7)
Winston Clifford - Drums (tracks 1, 7)
Django Bates - Piano (track 2)
Joachim Khn - Piano (tracks 3, 4)
J. F. Jenny Clarke - Bass (tracks 3, 4)
Chris McGregor - Piano (tracks 5, 6)
Courtney Pine - Tenor sax (track 6)
Fred Thelonious Baker - Bass (track 6)
Clifford Jarvis - Drums (track 6)

 

Since Harry Beckett died last July, it seems a suitable time for a tribute album to the Barbadian hornman who lived in the UK from 1954. Of course, one album can't hope to encompass the many facets of such a versatile musician's career but it is regrettable that this compilation fails to cover any of his work with the likes of Graham Collier, Mike Gibbs or Stan Tracey. The album is released by the German company ITM, which signed Beckett comparatively late in his career, and the selection only embraces the years from 1987 to 1995.

Nonetheless there is enough here to recall the distinctive features of Beckett's playing: his lyricism in ballads and his sometimes ferocious outbursts on free numbers. Several tracks also exhibit an uncertainty in Harry's soloing, as though he was not always entirely comfortable. But the range of musicians he plays with conveys a good idea of the breadth of his talent.

On the first and last tracks, Harry is part of a group led by trombonist Annie Whitehead. They stroll confidently through John Coltrane's Bessie's Blues, with both Whitehead and Beckett letting their hair down. Falling in Love with Love starts with some mysterious tickling from bass and drums before Harry and Annie state the theme, leading into a long drum solo by Winston Clifford, a swirling solo from Beckett, and a Rollins-echoing solo on tenor sax by John Burgess.

Les Jardins du Casino simply has Django Bates accompanying Harry's mellow but slightly quavering flugelhorn. This is the first of two ballads by Jacques Brel: the second one, Amsterdam, has some beautifully eloquent piano from Joachim Kuhn, who also wrote I Don't Want to Know.

The title-track puts Harry with another piano accompanist: Chris McGregor, who leads a larger group for Cozy 'n' Rozy, where Beckett alternates between minimal notes and uninhibited eddies of sound. This track occupies nearly 24 minutes, of which six are taken up with a show-off tenor solo by Courtney Pine.

This album is a useful reminder of Harry Beckett's abilites, although it is a shame that it didn't draw on a wider range of his performances.

Tony Augarde



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