The much-admired trumpeter and flugelhorn player Harry Beckett died this afternoon after a stroke on Tuesday. His last gig was Big Band Britannia with Guy Barker’s orchestra last month (Photo credit: Roger Thomas).
The roll-call of bands he was in makes him a central figure of the 60s/70s British scene: Ian Carr’s Nucleus, the Brotherhood of Breath and The Dedication Orchestra, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, John Surman, Octet Django Bates Ronnie Scott’s Quintet, Kathy Stobart, Charlie Watts, Stan Tracey’s Big Band and Octet; Elton Dean’s Ninesense. He also toured with Charles Mingus.
Mike Westbrook writes:
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.
Trevor Watts writes:
Harry was always a pleasure to play with, and always indicated to me that he enjoyed very much our gigs together. A lot of that was to do with own his undoubted good humour, encouragement and enthusiasm. We would always have a lot of laughs together, and I can hear his voice now saying “Hey Trev, how’s it going,” with a wry smile on his face. I’d always try and reply with some tongue-in-cheek remark, and we’d be having a laugh from that point onwards.
He was a great player that found the key all musicians like us are looking for. The way to “get it on” every time he picked up the horn. He’ll be sadly missed by many people. Not least of all myself. I was glad to have known him. Very sad.
(Harold Winston Beckett, born Barbados May 30 1935, died London July 22 2010)