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.
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.