The Modern Sound Of Harry Beckett is going to surprise a lot of people. You’re more likely to hear it echoing out the door of a hip night club or booming from a car driven by some twenty-something than from the deck of one of Beckett’s more mainstream fans. Nils Petter Molvðr, Bugge Wesseltoft, maybe some of those guys from the F-ire Collective. You might have expected something like that from them but not from Harry Beckett. Yet, like all his work, this album is defined as ever by the class of Beckett’s playing and the beauty of his music.
Pairing Beckett’s liquid, quicksilver trumpet and distinctive melody lines with the maverick genius of reggae and dance producer, Adrian Sherwood, might not sound like a match made in heaven. In practice, it proves to have been inspirational. How they came to connect speaks volumes about Beckett’s open-minded approach to music. It also features contributions from the late, great Junior Delgado. According to Beckett, his work with Jah Wobble provided the launching pad for his late-in-the-day On-U ‘career’:
“Through the years, I’ve been doing things on Jah Wobble’s albums. And Adrian had been in contact with Wobble for years. He heard what I had been doing and he asked me to work with him. So, it all really started there and then he asked me what I thought about this idea he had for an album.”
It’s one of those rare records – a collaboration of diverse and divergent talents that transforms into something far, far more than the sum of its parts.
Sadly old age finally caught up with the much travelled and recorded trumpeter, and The Modern Sound… was to be his last ever album. He died on 22 July 2010 following a stroke.
Material adapted from an article in Jazzwise magazine by Duncan Heining and Ron Wynn’s All Music Guide entry for Harry Beckett
For a full history on Harry Beckett, please link to a very well-voiced piece written in the Guardian newspaper: