Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Birthday Harry Beckett!

Remembering the trumpet titan with some tracks recorded for the BBC in 1974 just issued as Still Happy.

Harry Beckett - Still Happy (My Only Desire Records)

This previously unreleased session from trumpeter Harry Beckett, was originally recorded in 1974 for BBC Radio 2's Jazz Club program. Remastered from the original tapes by Frank Merritt at The Carvery in Hackney, 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.

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.

This limited edition release of Still Happy – out now on Plumstead's My Only Desire Records in a one-time 500 copy vinyl pressing with liner notes by Daniel Spicer (The Wire)  – celebrates the memory of Harry Beckett and should introduce him to many new fans.

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