18 August 2010

Harry Beckett - Flare Up

It's always with regret when one reads that another great musician has passed on. So it was with Harry Beckett who died at the age of 75 in July. We have posted a great deal of Beckett at this blog, but always in a sideman capacity, whether with the Brotherhood of Breath, the Dedication Orchestra, Dudu Pukwana's Zila (uncredited on Zila 86, as pointed out by one commentator) and most recently the BoB at Banlieues Bleues. In fact, looking at the Harry Beckett entries in Discogs, I'm flabbergasted at the number of records he's appeared on, even some in my own collection that I didn't even know about (Jah Wobble??).

So, time then to feature Beckett in leader capacity and let's go back to the beginning. Flare Up was released back in 1970 with a horn line-up that can't be beat. Osborne, Skidmore, Surman, huh? How's that? Here's a little write-up from the Amazon site:

Flare Up is the debut album by Caribbean trumpet player Harry Beckett. It remains an occasion to celebrate decades after its initial release during the golden age of British jazz. Beckett had been a member of the various big bands of the era, such as Graham Collier's, Mike Westbrook's, and John Surman's, preparing him well for this first date as a leader. It does take some cues from the late Miles Davis Quintet sides like Filles de Kilimanjaro and Directions, but it's also funkier, brighter, and freer simultaneously, owing to the great explorations in improvisation taking place in Great Britain and in Europe in general, as well as the late-era modal jazz of Miles. The lineup on this session is quite impressive:the triple-sax front line is comprised of Surman, Alan Skidmore, and Mike Osborne, with Chris Laurence and John Webb on bass and drums alternately, Frank Ricotti on vibes and congas, and John Taylor's uncredited Fender Rhodes piano. Beckett composed four of these pieces, Collier another four, and Surman (who had been flown in from Belgium for the date) one.The feel is brash in places, but there are grooves even in the more abstract spaces of tunes such as "Go West" and "The Other Side." With a three-sax front line, Beckett is uncaged to roam throughout the arrangement and accent the gritty and gruff, making his horn both a seductively mysterious element as well as a more elaborate extension of the rhythm section -- and Webb's drumming in places is absolutely unhinged (check the Beckett pieces like the title track and "Flow Stream Flow," as well as Surman's signature piece, "When Fortune Smiles"). This is essential for anyone interested in British jazz from its most creative period.


A1 Flare-Up
A2 Go West
A3 Where Fortune Smiles
A4 Scarlet Mine
A5 Third Road
B1 Flow Stream Flow
B2 The Other Side
B3 Rolli's Tune
B4 Fools Play

Trumpet, Flugelhorn - Harry Beckett
Saxophone [Alto] - Mike Osborne
Saxophone [Baritone, Soprano] - John Surman
Saxophone [Soprano, Tenor] - Alan Skidmore
Piano - John Taylor
Vibraphone, Congas [Conga Drum] - Frank Ricotti
Bass - Chris Laurence
Drums - John Webb

I'll post more Beckett later on, but let's get started on this one. This is also out on a cd which seems to be getting hard to find. This sounds to me like a vinyl rip, off the Philips album in 1970.

By a strike of luck, this appeared in the comments section of a 2007 post, so thanks to the poster for keeping the link alive. If it should disappear, I'll re-up it. More Beckett to come.


kinabalu said...

This was posted as a set of mp3 files, so that's what I have:


the jazzstronaut said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I didn't realise that Harry Beckett had passed away, impossible to be a jazz fan in the UK without recognising his huge contribution to the scene.

I had one of his albums(on the Ogun label) which was recorded in Hastings, East Sussex, really cool and funky record. For those who have been to, or passed through Hastings, that must sound really extraordinary; but for a short period in the 70s Hastings was almost the jazz capital of England!!!

Cheers for sharing and may jolly good Harry rest in peace.

slovenlyeric said...

It is sad to hear of his passing. I have enjoyed this recording for years and of course many other items he performed on. He always made every recording better by his presence.

Calisan said...

Great recording from Beckett but it's a shame got no covers from this unseen rare at least for me!
Thanks for the rip anyway!

kinabalu said...


I'm planning to post both of his Ogun albums next. I have indeed been to Hastings (twice). It's hard to imagine it as a jazz capital, but I think it may have something to do with Keith Beal living there at the time, who was responsible for many Ogun recordings back in the day. Trevor Watts lives there, too, I believe.

Wallofsound said...

I'm really looking forward to your Beckett posts. A good way to honour his memory: let more people hear his music. I can recommend this LP highly.

boogieman said...

Thanks a lot for this beautiful album. Harry Beckett was highly gifted and creative artist who probably did not receive the recognition he should havegot. It is high time that credit is given to the contribution of Caribbean musicians to the British Jazz scene.

Igor said...

Thanks a lot for sharing, kinabalu.

ubu said...

I got this one earlier (prob. from your comments). It's great! Sorry I missed the CD reissue of it!

There's a two-disc set still readily available though, featuring similar line-ups from the same time-frame:

"Warm Smiles" & "Themes for Fega":

hideo said...

thanks a ton for this, kinabalu ... missed it the first time around and am I looking forward to more Beckett, you betcha!

kinabalu said...


yes, I know about them, they're on my shopping list. A couple of more things on the list. We'll see how it turns out.

Btw, four Beckett concerts in addition to the two albums on the backburner, so there'll be more Beckett in the time to come.

sitarswami said...

What a great record, especially Rolly's Tune. Thanks for posting.

costanza said...

could you please reup that'd be awesome

kinabalu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
costanza said...

thank you this ones great as are many others here

Solomon said...

Thank you.

kinabalu said...

New link:


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much

Anonymous said...

bummed I missed the CD of this - did manage to get all the Gilles Peterson series of British Jazz albums which is great - but wish I could find this in flac - MP3s ain't doing it for me though good for getting more people to know this gem - someone should reissue this !

Anonymous said...

It has been reissued on the inconstantsol download label.

Anonymous said...

MP3 is not a release - its a shadow of a good flac rip

Andy said...


Anonymous said...

excellent thanks