Harry Beckett Memorial Concert
(Cafe Oto, October 10th 2010, review by Patrick Hadfield, all photos: Richard Kaby)
Sunday night’s memorial concert for trumpeter Harry Beckett at Café Oto started out as a subdued early evening affair, but warmed up quickly as musician after musician played in tribute to the great trumpeter, who died in July.
With so many groups on the bill, including the Roland Ramanaman Tentet (above), Café Oto was as full of musicians as it was fans. There was a great deal of warmth directed towards Beckett, both from the audience and from the stage. Many of the musicians told stories of Beckett – how they had met, what Harry was like, and what he meant to them.
Drummers Tony Marsh and Charles Hayward both made several appearances in different guises, including one set which featured both of them; their different styles kept various groupings moving on. Also notable was John Edwards (below), whose very physical bass playing figured at the heart of several different groups.
It seemed to be a night for experimenting. There was a fascinating set by saxophonist Lol Coxhill, pianist Steve Beresford and Orphy Robinson playing steel pan drums; Phil Minton – “singer” seems an inadequate description for someone who creates such diverse sounds from his larynx – made an unscheduled appearance, too. Robinson looped the sound of the pans electronically, effectively duetting with himself and Coxhill: there was a captivating silence from the audience as the ringing faded.
Claude Deppa premiered a new piece in honour of Beckett, clearly freshly written: the several musicians seemed unfamiliar with the piece’s complexity, but the teetering made it all the more exciting: Deppa pulled it back from chaos, giving the music a real edge. He conducted as much as he played, the band featuring luminaries such as the excellent Brian Abrams on drums, Tony Kofi on sax and trumpeter Chris Batchelor (below with Claude Deppa and Fayaz Virji).
Byron Wallen played an exquisite, haunting solo piece in honour of Beckett, being joined towards the end by Kofi. There was an especially touching moment when Beckett’s grandson joined Orphy Robinson on steel pans for the final piece.
And singer Maggie Nichols perhaps captured and defined the moment best– “when we listen to your music, you live!”