23 luglio 2010


Giunge da Londra la notizia che il trombettista Harry Beckett, un grande dello strumento e presenza costante nelle più importanti pagine della storia del free jazz britannico, è morto ieri all'età di settantacinque anni. Lo ricorda tra i primi e con grande affetto Mike Westbrook, che lo ebbe di frequente nella propria orchestra nel periodo fine anni sessanta-primi anni settanta: "We were very sorry indeed to read about the death of Harry Beckett. An incomparable loss, personally and musically. He was one of our greatest, and most distinctive trumpet players, and a totally committed jazz musician. We worked together a lot in the 60s and early 70s, especially in my orchestra. His solo on the last track of the Metropolis album is one to treasure. Thereafter Kate, I and Chris Biscoe often ran into him on the road, always a delight. Chris, of course, has been working regularly with Harry in small groups. At one point the two of them did a two-year stint with the Orchestre National de Jazz, in Paris. We are all going to miss him terribly."

Resident in the UK since 1954, Harry Beckett's reputation extends throughout Europe and the USA. In 1961, he played with Charles Mingus in the film All Night Long. In the late 1960s he worked and recorded within the band of bass player and composer Graham Collier. Since 1970 he has been leading groups of his own, recording for Philips, RCA and Ogun Records amongst other labels. He was a key figure of important groups in the British free jazz/improvised music scene, including Ian Carr's Nucleus, the Brotherhood of Breath and The Dedication Orchestra, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, London Improvisers Orchestra, John Surman's Octet, Django Bates, Ronnie Scott's Quintet, Kathy Stobart, Charlie Watts, Stan Tracey's Big Band and Octet; Elton Dean's Ninesense. He has also recorded with Keef Hartley, Jah Wobble, David Sylvian and worked with David Murray. He toured abroad with Johnny Dyani, Chris McGregor, Keith Tippett, John Tchicai, Joachim Kühn, Dudu Pukwana's Zila, George Gruntz's Bands, Belgian quintet The Wrong Object, Pierre Dørge's New Jungle Band and Annie Whitehead's Robert Wyatt project, Soupsongs, which also featured Phil Manzanera and Julie Tippetts, amongst other jazz and rock luminaries. In 1972 Beckett won the Melody Maker jazz Poll as 'Top Trumpeter in Britain'. He was a member of the Orchestre National de Jazz between 1997 and 2000.
His most recent, dub-oriented album, The Modern Sound of Harry Beckett, was produced by famed British producer Adrian Sherwood and released on On-U Sound in late 2008.