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Harry Beckett

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  • Born: St. Michael Parish, Barbados
  • Died: London, England
  • Years Active: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

As fierce and fiery as any trumpet and fl├╝gelhorn stylist, yet also capable of a shimmering lyricism, Harry Beckett was an important part of Britain's jazz community for decades following his arrival on the scene during the 1950s. Born in Barbados on May 30, 1935, he moved to England in 1954, then joined Graham Collier's band in the early '60s, remaining with it until 1977. Beckett was featured in the film All Night Long with Charles Mingus in 1961. He also worked with Mike Westbrook's orchestra and Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath. Beckett played with the big bands of Neil Ardley, Mike Gibbs, and John Warren, and was part of the London Jazz Composer's Orchestra. He was also a member of small combos led by Tony Oxley, John Surman, and Ray Russell. Beckett played with the Stan Tracey Octet in the mid-'70s, and also worked with Elton Dean and Zila, a group led by Dudu Pukwana. He recorded as a leader for various labels including Jazzprint, ITM, RCA, and Philips. As an indication of his stylistic breadth, Beckett's last album before his death was the 2008 On-U-Sound release The Modern Sound of Harry Beckett, produced by Adrian Sherwood and featuring reggae, dub, and dance music influences. Harry Beckett died in London following a stroke on July 22, 2010; he was 75 years old.

eMusic Features


Chris McGregor: Cape Town to Free Town

By Kevin Whitehead, Contributor

It wasn't easy, being the interracial Blue Notes in 1963 apartheid South Africa: a black horns-and-rhythm combo with a white pianist/music director, Chris McGregor. They skipped out of Cape Town the following year: went to a French festival and didn't return. In London by '65, the quintet's members were welcomed by forward-looking jazz musicians: Steve Lacy drafted bassist Johnny Dyani and drummer Louis Moholo for the album The Forest and the Zoo, and an ill-fated… more »