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Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

LP/Digital Review: Harry Beckett - Still Happy.

Harry Beckett (trumpet, flugelhorn); Alan Wakeman (soprano/tenor); Don Weller (tenor); Brian Miller (el piano); Paul Hart (bass); John Webb (drums); Robin Jones (percussion).
(Introduction by Lance)
There's nothing I can add to the press release below. Beckett was a fantastic and creative musician. He played many times on Tyneside including memorable sessions at the Corner House and other venues. 
Working in a Newcastle music shop at the time I also had the honour of selling Don Weller some tenor sax reeds the day after a gig. Rico Royal number fives if my memory serves me right! Reeds only slightly thinner than a tree trunk! Not recommended for the thin-lipped! 
This session, from a BBC broadcast, makes me wonder how many more masterpieces are hidden in Auntie's cupboard (I almost said 'draws'!) that will never see the light! No doubt the question of royalties muddies the water in such situations. 
Most jazz people, and indeed music lovers of any genre, have tapes of broadcasts from over the years, They deserve to be made available - providing the re-mastering is done professionally and that the musicians, or their estate, are in agreement. In the meantime, check out this rare memory of a wonderful trumpet player.
Lance.
This unreleased session from trumpeter Harry Beckett, was originally recorded in 1974 for BBC Radio 2. Remastered from the original tapes, it presents a brilliant snapshot of music from the era, as he mixes turbo-charged jazz with his Caribbean heritage and the rock and funk of the 70s.
Limited edition, high quality, one-off pressing of 500 copies. The sleeve is printed on think, reverse board with extensive sleeve notes by Daniel Spicer (Jazzwise, The Wire). The runtime of 30 minutes has enabled the pressing to be loud and wonderfully detailed.
Beckett's group includes the twin saxophone line-up of Alan Wakeman on tenor and soprano and Don Weller on tenor saxophone, Brian Miller on electric piano, Paul Hart on electric bass, John Webb on drums and Robin Jones on percussion.
The title track "Still Happy" has never appeared on any of Harry's albums and until now has never been released in any format. It reflects Harry's personality and joy of music making perfectly. The playing and interplay between the musicians is first-class, as it is throughout the session. The LP is noticeable for its beautifully composed themes and proto-hip hop drumming from John Webb, which will have producers around the world reaching for their MPC60s.
Harry moved to the UK from Barbados in the 50s and played with a who's-who of British jazz stars during the 60s and 70s - Graham Collier, John Surman, Mike Osbourne, Stan Tracey, Mike Westbrook, Chris McGregor etc. - as well as rock/pop stars such as Jack Bruce, Keef Hartley, Robert Wyatt and Manfred Mann. Beckett worked in jazz for over five decades but also performed with pop/rock groups (Working Week, David Sylvian) and dub/reggae producers, such as Jah Wobble and Adrian Sherwood. Harry died in 2010 after suffering a stroke.
'Still Happy' celebrates his memory and should introduce him to many new fans.
Recorded 1974 for the BBC Radio 2 Jazz Club programme
First broadcast on 11 August 1974
All tracks composed by Harry Beckett.

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