Close up of a keyboard.

Harry Beckett in Concert

Harry Beckett playing his trumpet.I was first introduced to Harry Beckett through his performances in live sets on the BBC radio show ‘Sounds of Jazz’. I remember being intrigued by the sound he produced on his trumpet, which by classical standards was atrocious, yet for jazz was both distinctive and alluring. But it wasn’t only his sound that compelled me to listen, his compositions and improvisations had a freshness that made them stand out from the crowd. So, when I heard he was coming to town, sometime in the early ’90s, I had to go along to see him.

The venue was an upstairs function room in a Birmingham pub, located in an area where most wouldn’t choose to venture after dark. I was nervous about leaving my car so I found a place to park directly under a streetlight, just a little down the road from the pub.

The downstairs of the pub just had the regulars – unaware that a luminary of the British jazz scene was going to be performing above them to a gathering of ardent jazz fans.

Beckett’s band consisted of keyboards, bass guitar, drums, vocals, and possibly a saxophone too, their shoddy appearance totally belying the quality of jazz they would produce.

The best word I can think of to describe Harry Beckett’s music is refreshing, having a certain joyous quality about it. The improvisations he does are equally as appealing. The band was tight, with the vocalist acting more as an integral part of the ensemble than a soloist, and providing impressive improvised vocal lines in places.

At one point in the concert the keyboard player announced that only Harry and the bass player were going to perform the next piece. As someone who prefers larger ensembles to smaller ones I fully expected this to be the lowlight of the evening. And what sort of piece could just a trumpet and bass guitar produce? In the hands of these two musicians the answer was something quite remarkable, so much so that over 20 years after the concert it is the thing I remember the most.

I was hearing British jazz at its best, and it is lamentable that Harry Beckett never really got the fame he deserved before his death in 2010.

After the show the band was selling their album, which I bought and had signed by all the band members.

Leaving the pub in the late hours I was relieved to see my car still safe and sound under the streetlight where I had left it. It had been a most memorable evening.

 


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Just arrived on this site:

May 29, 2017. New this month is a selection of six Royalty Free Radio Jingles.

April 30, 2017. After a half-year break from adding new material to this site, I've added an article / review on Headphone Holders.

Sept. 29, 2016. In the final part of how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk, I show the finished product, and provide further information on cost, construction time and more.

Aug. 30, 2016. In Part 4 of how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk, I talk about stainng and varnishing.

July 12, 2016. This month, in Part 3 of how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk, I detail the construction process.

June 16, 2016. This month, in Part 2 of how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk, I look at the preparation needed..

May 30, 2016. This month sees the start of a series on how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk. Part 1 this month looks at the design process.

April 29, 2016. This month I have added a short article on Trumpet Psychology to the Musicians' Corner - an essential read for aspiring professionals.

March 29, 2016. This month the Selected CD Reviews section has been updated with four additional audio files.

Feb. 24, 2016. A new photo has been added to the Gallery of a Valentine's Day concert I played at this month, accompanying various artists.

Jan. 14, 2016. New in the Reviews section this month is a look at PMC's TB2 Nearfield Monitors.

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Sometime Somewhere...

cd

A relaxing Smooth Jazz CD. Listen to extracts of all 12 tracks now.

 

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