GORDON BECK — Celebration (review)

GORDON BECK — Celebration album cover Album · 1985 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
A fairly undocumented album in most jazz circles, this dates from 85 and features Gordon Beck with his Quintet, made from some 70’s London-scene stalwarts like Stan Sulzmann (sax) and Frank Ricotti (vibes), while the rhythm section is made of Hutton’s bass and Airguelles’ drum kit from the next generation of musicians. The album was recorded live at the Bracknell Festival in the summer of 84.

The 7-parts Celebration Suite is splattered all over the album’s length and feature a short but grandiose opening quickly dissolving in dissonance, a lengthy piano solo, and an even-shorter finale, reprising the opening theme. The four parts proper of Celebration are much more interesting, but the way they are written or cut, make it difficult to describe, but we’re definitely n the typical British 70’s jazz mould, where the piano plays a primordial role just like the rockier drumming (especially in Part II), but it’s on the compositional side that things really make a difference. Clearly the album’s centrepieces are the lengthier Part II and III, even if my preference goes for the former, although the latter is a bit more frenzied. As for the fourth part, it presents a more reflective and pensive side, with Sulzmann’s sax over-ruling Beck’s excellent piano.

Actually when listening to Celebration, it’s relatively hard to understand how this album is so overlooked (even absent from most guides and reference books), because I personally think it is one of Beck’s best works (with Sunbird a close second), if you’re into adventurous jazz. I believe that this album’s only CD reissue is part of a 2on1 album, from the French JMS label, coupled with the Reasons album. If you stumble on it, don’t hesitate a second
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