Tom Beckham has a refreshing approach to the vibraphone. He plays it with a gentle ear for harmony and development, with ideas that are wrapped in crystalline notes. Beckham resides in New York where he teaches and plays. The latter has seen him as part of bands led by Michael Musillami and Sam Bardfield as well as in collaborations with artists including Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Michael Blake. Rebound is his third release as a leader.
The music, all of which was composed by Beckham, takes on varied shades. His sense of time and rhythm, combined with his extrapolations on chords, lead to some interesting music.
"Tethered" serves as a fine opener, acknowledging Beckham's ability to carve a niche for his writing and then take it out and give it a new semblance. Pace is in constant flux, with Chris Cheek upping it on saxophone as he lays down a slew of buoyant ideas. Henry Hey stays in the zone on the piano, but when Beckham comes in, the pace slows down and the band takes the tune out with a warm empathy.
Beckham invests a lot of space into the head of "Cee's and Dee's" before he rolls into the melody. He seeps it in delicacy, as opposed to Cheek who cuts in deep, each line a furrow into the melodic soul of the composition. Cheek's ability to change pulse and direction seamlessly develops the tune to a nicety. He is complemented first by Hey and then by Beckham, who lights up the path with his translucent presence.
An undercurrent of Brazilian rhythm informs "World Cup." It's an inviting tune that draws attention no sooner than when Beckham traipses in. His explorations are vibrant and colorful and, with Cheek taking a breathy tangent, this is one sweet, tangy outing.
Personnel: Tom Beckham: vibraphone; Chris Cheek: saxophones; Henry Hey: piano; Matt Clohesy: bass; Ferenc Nemeth: drums.