Reviews that mention Mick Beck

August 11, 2019

Météo Mulhouse Music Festival

August 27-31, 2019
Mulhouse, France

By Ken Waxman

Photos by Susan O'Connor

Having reached its 37th year without compromising its goal of presenting mature improvisers alongside younger musicians with newer concepts, the Météo Music Festival maintained that tradition throughout this year’s festival in late August. Creating an atmosphere where 21-year-old local drumming phenom Gaspard Beck is as welcomed and treated with the same respect as British saxophonist Evan Parker, 74, one of the pioneers of Free Music, confirms this. High quality sounds of all sorts were presented throughout the Mulhouse, France festival’s five days, with French performers featured along with those from Scandinavia, Asia, central Europe, North America, and pre-Brexit United Kingdom. MORE

May 2, 2019

Beck Hunters

Has it Been Found?
Discus Music 78 CD

BLOOR

Drolleries

Astral Spirits MF188/AS084

Tom Rainey Ttrio

Combobulated

Intakt CD 316

Moving on from a novel – if not unexpected – configuration of saxophone, guitar and drums are three ensembles whose members appreciate and use the flexibility and timbral colors available with this format. Depending on how the instruments are blended and which tempos are emphasized marks how each makes an individual statement. These sessions of group-created sounds involve players from a couple of generations of Europeans and Americans. New York drummer Tom Rainey’s Combobulated CD for instance is a showcase for a veteran player like him and two younger veterans, German-born saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and guitarist Mary Halvorson. British saxophonist/Mick Beck is the elder player on Has it Been Found, partnered with younger British associates, guitarist Anton Hunter and drummer Johnny Hunter. Meanwhile the New York-based contributors to Drolleries are all relative tyros: saxophonist Sam Weinberg, guitarist Andrew Smiley and drummer Jason Nazary. MORE

January 26, 2015

Beck Hunters

The Hunt is On
Discus 46 CD

Musical mythology includes many sounds defined geographically such As Mississippi Blues, the Viennese atonalists, Chicago-style Jazz and the Canterbury Rock Scene, so why not make a case for Sheffield Improv? Certainly the steel making city was the birthplace of Free Music most uncompromising prophet – Derek Bailey – and over the years a raft of others improvisers such as Tony Oxley, Paul Hession, Martin Archer and Simon Fell have had associations in the place.

All of which leads to this top-line slab of Free Jazz from long-time Sheffield affiliate Mick Beck, who plays tenor saxophone, bassoon, and whistles. Besides the notable music another point of interest is that the trio is filled out by two much younger players. They are brothers Anton Hunter on guitar and Johnny Hunter on drums, who may in fact, be interlopers from Manchester. A sturdy drummer with evidentially no desire to join the insect music crowd, Johnny Hunter’s steady beat is sometimes enlivened with pops, cracks and resounds as well as cymbal tickles, often turning the rhythm into a crescendo of irregular bumps. Anton Hunter, who also recorded the four selections at an unnamed time and place – October 2013 perhaps – offers some distinctive coloration to the tunes. Influenced by Rock like his sibling, his spindly guitar licks take more from the more sophisticated side of Chet Atkins and the less funky parts of Grant Green than anything invented by Bailey. MORE

July 27, 2011

Blistrap

On Stage
Setola di Maiale SM 1560

Weavels

At Nether Edge

Discus 34CD

Recorded by two ad hoc combos with different names, these releases actually each feature Sheffield-based multi-reedist Mick Beck, a different local guitarist and a third musician. That there is so much coherence in the playing despite On Stage being an out-and-out Free Jazz exploration and At Nether Edge more of a study in Free Music minimalism, is moreover a tribute to Beck’s talents and adaptability.

Initially a tenor saxophonist with the improvising big band Feet Packets, Beck has had long-time association with drummer Paul Hession and shorter collaborations with other local and international improvisers. Today he is as apt to be heard playing bassoon or whistles as the saxophone. This instrumental unconventionality is taken a step further on the Weavels’ CD, with the band otherwise consisting of Alex Ward’s guitar and Chris Cundy’s bass clarinet. Self-taught the bass clarinetist works in a variety of ad hoc situation as well as in a duo with pianist Pat Thomas. Equally proficient on clarinet, Ward is part of a singer/songwriter duo as well as working in improv situations with drummer Steve Noble and bassist John Edwards among others. Similarly, Jonny Drury, Blistrap’s Sheffield-based guitarist, is self-taught, with his collaborators ranging from improvisers to outside rockers such as Genesis P-Orridge. Swiss-born, Pordenone-based drummer Stefano Giust completes the band. With, like Drury, an interest in electro-acoustics, the drummer has worked with the likes of saxophonist Gianni Gebbia, and cellist Tristan Honsinger. MORE

July 27, 2011

Weavels

At Nether Edge
Discus 34CD

Blistrap

On Stage

Setola di Maiale SM 1560

Recorded by two ad hoc combos with different names, these releases actually each feature Sheffield-based multi-reedist Mick Beck, a different local guitarist and a third musician. That there is so much coherence in the playing despite On Stage being an out-and-out Free Jazz exploration and At Nether Edge more of a study in Free Music minimalism, is moreover a tribute to Beck’s talents and adaptability.

Initially a tenor saxophonist with the improvising big band Feet Packets, Beck has had long-time association with drummer Paul Hession and shorter collaborations with other local and international improvisers. Today he is as apt to be heard playing bassoon or whistles as the saxophone. This instrumental unconventionality is taken a step further on the Weavels’ CD, with the band otherwise consisting of Alex Ward’s guitar and Chris Cundy’s bass clarinet. Self-taught the bass clarinetist works in a variety of ad hoc situation as well as in a duo with pianist Pat Thomas. Equally proficient on clarinet, Ward is part of a singer/songwriter duo as well as working in improv situations with drummer Steve Noble and bassist John Edwards among others. Similarly, Jonny Drury, Blistrap’s Sheffield-based guitarist, is self-taught, with his collaborators ranging from improvisers to outside rockers such as Genesis P-Orridge. Swiss-born, Pordenone-based drummer Stefano Giust completes the band. With, like Drury, an interest in electro-acoustics, the drummer has worked with the likes of saxophonist Gianni Gebbia, and cellist Tristan Honsinger. MORE

March 27, 2006

Grew Trio

It’s morning
Discus

Werchowska/Pontevia/Boubaker
Glotosifres
Creative Sources

By Ken Waxman
March 27, 2006

Whether it started with John Coltrane’s hour-long saxophone workouts in the 1960s, those extended Norman Granz-organized jam sessions in the 1940s, or, to go back further, Classic Jazzers taking chorus after chorus on standards like “When the Saints Go Marching In”, brevity has never been considered a virtue in improvised music.

This tendency was exacerbated with the invention of the lengthier and more expensive CD, as musicians previously able to say all they had to in 40-minute wedges, suddenly felt they had to lengthen each track to give the cost-conscious consumer an hour or more of music. Luckily that fad has lessened over the past couple of years, with astute performers acknowledging that quality wins out over quantity. These sessions by similarly constituted trios of musicians who live in different cities on either side of the English Channel provide the truth of that assessment. MORE

December 26, 2005

ASAF SIRKIS & THE INNER NOISE

We Are Falling
Konnex KCD 5150

COMBAT ASTRONOMY
The Dematerialised Passenger
Discus 20CD

Reduced to cliché elsewhere, the jazz and improv part of jazz-rock fusion still survives in isolated corners of the music business. In the United Kingdom, one spot is London, another Sheffield, while in the United States there’s St. Paul, Minn. [!]

At least it would seem so on the evidence of these CDs. Israeli-born, London-based drummer Asaf Sirkis has put out the second CD by his Inner Noise trio, which he admits is as influenced as much by Weather Report and Allan Holdsworth as Sun Ra. A continuation of the band’s first CD, WE ARE FALLING differs since Steve Lodder is able to play a special midi keyboard with an organ feel and special keyboard set-up with bass pedals, instead of the church organ used on the band’s debut disc. MORE

December 5, 2005

BAILEY/BECK/HESSION

Meanwhile, back in Sheffield
Discus 21CD

FREE BASE
The Ins and Outs
Emanem 4116

Free Improv merry-go-rounds, these CDs feature veteran players from the United Kingdom extending themselves in previously unrecorded trio formations.

Oversight and commitments to other groups are why, after a decade of existence, the fine Free Base trio debuts on record with THE INS AND OUTS. Conversely, MEANWHILE, BACK IN SHEFFIELD captures on disc a now-uncommon occurrence: the first live gig in a decade by that British city’s best-known native improviser: guitarist Derek Bailey, now a Barcelona-resident. He’s joined by local Mick Beck on tenor saxophone, whistles and bassoon, and drummer Paul Hession from Leeds. Both men have played individually with Bailey, but never recorded with him in this formation. MORE

November 15, 2004

MILO FINE/MICK BECK/PAUL HESSION

Motion Ejecta
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1164

An Anglo-American concordance, this CD celebrates a reciprocal idea exchange between three men who help nurture free improv scenes in their hometowns.

It’s also a musical souvenir from an American abroad, in this case Minneapolis, Minn.’s drummer/clarinetist Milo Fine, who works with two Englishmen -- Leeds-based drummer Paul Hession and Sheffield reedist Mick Beck -- as if they constituted a regular group, rather than participants in a second meeting. Fine played with the others at guitarist Derek Bailey’s Company Week in 1988. Miraculously on the tracks here, the three pick up the musical thread as if there was no 15-year hiatus. MORE

October 6, 2003

KOPINSKI & KONIKIEWICZ

Zone K
SLAM CD 252

BECK/HESSION/THOMAS
The three b’s
fencing flatworm recordings ff019

Putting electric keyboards into a trio with reeds and drums can sometimes overbalance the sonority, so that it moves away from pure improv and closer to rhythmic simplicity. Because the gizmos are set up to hold and accentuate notes, it appears to be easier to create riffs, vamps and blends then investigate more cerebral experiments. This tendency can be further exacerbated if the keyboardist’s playing partners lean towards simpler syncopation as well. MORE

January 27, 2003

IMPROVISERS 1988-1998

By Jo Fell
Bruce’s Fingers 42

Lively arts of about the same vintage, photography and improvised music seem to have a potent relationship to one another. Think of how our view of early jazz and blues performers like King Oliver, Fats Waller and Blind Lemon Jefferson has been influenced by how they appear in their pictures. There are even a few, like the legendary New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden, who only exist in one snapshot and old-timers’ memories.

More recently, the moody introspective photos of Herman Leonard, all pinpoint details and curling cigarette smoke, defined Bebop for many people. The bright, outdoor portraits of William Claxton did the same for Cool Jazz. MORE

January 13, 2003

Simon H. Fell

Composition No. 30.
Bruce’s Fingers BF 27

The compositions and performance of British bassist Simon H. Fell on this two-CD set may be the long-awaited physical flowering of Gunther Schuller’s and John Lewis’ ideas from the 1960s. Fell may also have taken those theories even further.

In the early 1960s, Schuller, a modern composer, French hornist and head of Boston’s New England Conservatory; and Lewis, pianist and music director of the Modern Jazz Quartet; conceived of Third Stream music that would combine elements of music’s first and second streams of classical music and jazz. They recorded a few albums and even put together a mixed jazz and classical ensemble called Orchestra USA. MORE

October 21, 2002

MICK BECK/STEPHEN GREW

Picture August
Bruce’s Fingers BF 34

EMMANELLE CISI/PAOLO BIRRO
Hidden Songs
Splasc (H) CDH 756.2

Two musicians, two instruments, two countries and two completely different approaches to improvisation are reflected on these two CDs. Ostensibly avant garde, the British improvisers on PICTURE AUGUST have actually created music that’s pretty accessible if you give it a chance. Meanwhile, although HIDDEN SONGS is undoubtedly a relaxed ballad session, the Italian musos challenge the casual listener to find the familiar songs’ buried in their hidden melodies, harmonies or forms. MORE