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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Beck Trio: Get Me Joe Beck

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The jazz world, it seems, has always been awash in talented guitarists, from Reinhardt and Christian through Montgomery, Pass, Farlow, Hall and their like to the present day. This is both a blessing and a curse, as only a handful of such splendid musicians are able to rise above the throng and become household names or even widely known. Joe Beck, who was one week shy of his sixty-third birthday when he died in July 2008, was one of those “fringe" players, an astute and versatile artist who was familiar to and respected by his fellow musicians but produced no ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Beck: Get Me Joe Beck

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It would be something of an understatement to say that the late Joe Beck was a fine guitarist. In truth, he was one of the most multifaceted players to wield the instrument during his lifetime. Beck was hailed for his funky fusion work, both as an individual and in combination with saxophonist David Sanborn, he was an ace studio musician, working with everybody from Miles Davis to Paul Simon to Gloria Gaynor, and he was a brilliant and daring interpreter of standards. It's that last aspect of his playing that shines brightly on this posthumously released live date.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Beck & Laura Theodore: Golden Earrings

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The duet program Golden Earrings is Laura Theodore's ode to Peggy Lee's standard-setting duets with her husband, guitarist and co-composer Dave Barbour. Subsequent circumstances have added a sadder tribute to Theodore's instrumental partner, guitarist Joe Beck, who recorded his final work on Golden Earrings before he succumbed to cancer in July 2008.

Tribute offerings can be tricky propositions. If you stay too close to the originals, critics say that you're simply “aping" them; change them too much and critics complain that you've strayed too far. Golden Earrings shows how Theodore and Beck mastered both approaches. Theodore delivers her most confident ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Beck & John Abercrombie: Coincidence

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This duet album is a guitarist's dream. Both Joe Beck and John Abercrombie have unquestionable individual virtuosity plus experience in this format through previous tandem performances with Larry Coryell, John Scofield, Ralph Towner and similar luminaries. Together, they explore pillars from the traditional and more exploratory jazz canons including Mercer Ellington's “Things Ain't What They Used to Be," Miles Davis' “All Blues" and Ornette Coleman's “The Turnaround," plus new originals for the occasion, in witty and bright conversation

The interwoven riffs and rhythms of the opening “Beautiful Love" serve as both description and introduction. Its sharp yet soft ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Joe Beck: Trio 7 & Coincidence

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Guitarist Joe Beck's career has spanned fifty years, mostly below the below the radar since he has not spent much time as a leader, but rather has played behind many performers, inside and outside of jazz. His talent has been recognized by his receiving the Most Valuable Player Award five times by the National Academy of Recording Arts And Sciences during his thirty years of composing music for TV and movies. In any case, the two releases below show that Beck is not only quite capable of leading, but that he also has something to say, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Beck & John Abercrombie: Coincidence

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His ECM albums may be more overtly modern and left-of-center but, based on a 2004 AAJ interview, when John Abercrombie is at home practicing, it's usually in the context of jazz standards. For those who feel such well-trodden material has little left to offer in the way of either challenge or modern interpretation, the guitarist's duet with Joe Beck, Coincidence, will go a long way to encouraging naysayers to reconsider.

Like Abercrombie, Beck is a guitarist with a sizable discography as a sideman. His discography as a leader is smaller, however, and hasn't received the same ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Beck: Tri07

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Tri07 is a different type of release for Joe Beck. Which is a powerful statement, since this guitarists' guitarist has won the Most Valuable Player Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) five different times, and his career, which spans five decades, includes working with Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Antonio Carlos Jobim and other geniuses.

Tri07 delivers two distinct Beck flavors: Adventurous improvisational explorations that deconstruct and reassemble pieces such as “You and the Night and the Music" and John Coltrane's “Impressions," and reverential yet energetic reviews of numerous hallowed standards ("But ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Joe Beck Trio: Just Friends

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This all-star date incorporates the aggressive electric sound of guitarist Joe Beck with the fusion bona fides of bassist Mark Egan and drummer Danny Gottlieb. These guys have been friends for some time and it shows in the excitement of the playing. Beck and his comrades mix it up rhythmically, sonically, electrically, and repertoire-wise. The group has no trouble taking on old ballads such as “I Love You" and “Just Friends" (check out Gottlieb’s brushes on the former and Egan’s full-throated approach on the latter.)

The trio pretty well keeps it between the ditches through-out the album until ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Beck Trio: Just Friends

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Joe Beck's resume dates back to the late sixties: opening for Cream; playing with Buddy Rich; backing Sinatra, Miles, and pop rocker Melanie; plus years of composing for films and TV. Beck is professional and versatile, with a very polished yet relaxed approach on his latest offering, Just Friends.The guitarist got together with a couple of friends and long time collaborators--bassist Mark Egan and drummer Danny Gotlieb--for a laid-back, straight-ahead session that showcases their virtuosity and fluid musical rapport.The trio opens with Cole Porter's classic, "I Love You," which must be Beck's tribute to family and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jimmy Bruno & Joe Beck: Polarity

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Veteran guitarists Joe Beck and Jimmy Bruno work well together and share an appreciation of beautiful sound as applied to jazz's mainstream. Most of the feature work is from Bruno, 46, who plays a seven-string guitar. Beck, 54, plays an instrument of his own creation. His alto guitar is tuned down a fifth and offers the artist a means for providing both bass line and accompaniment. Tone quality remains of paramount importance throughout the duo session.

“Summertime" moves at a lively tempo and becomes a fast-fingered clinic for Bruno's dexterous hands. Unfortunately, the flying fingers and urgent mood have eroded ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jimmy Bruno and Joe Beck: Polarity

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What we have here is a superb, unique, and highly listenable two-guitar album. But- don't be fooled- it is not what one might think- it is not a “duel of the guitars." Rather, it is a genuine collaborative effort in which one guitarist complements the other to produce a beautiful and integrated sense of musical ensemble capitalizing on the “polarity" of Bruno's virtuosic theme and variations combined with Beck's rhythms, chordal accompaniments, and riffs on his self-developed “alto guitar," an instrument which can provide a bass ostinato along with chords and melodic twists, each in a distinctly different register, creating ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Beck & David Sanborn: Beck and Sanborn

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When I picked up this CD, I thought “Wow, Jeff Beck and David Sanborn, what an odd match." Well, Beck and Sanborn actually refers to Joe Beck, so at least I was 50% right. While I hadn't been a Joe Beck fan (and I don't have any of his other releases) I do like his brassy tone and aggressive approach - distorted archtop with heavy gauge strings (what was this guy playing?). The saxophone work is especially nice because this is Sanborn before he was Sanborn, back when we were only beginning to hear his saxophone on NBC ...



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