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Tom Beckham: Rebound

Woodrow Wilkins By

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In the simplest terms, to rebound is to bounce back. Many people associate it with a statistic in basketball, or the recovery from heartbreak. Musically, it describes what happens when a mallet strikes a vibraphone, or the bouncing off of ideas during improvisation. Tom Beckham does both with Rebound.

Beckham is a Maryland native and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. A sideman for 20 years, he's performed with musicians such as Seamus Blake, Donny McCaslin, and Brahim Fribgane, and he also studied with fellow vibraphonist Gary Burton. On Rebound, Beckham's third release as a leader, he's accompanied by Chris Cheek on saxophones, Henry Hey on piano, Matt Clohesy on bass and Ferenc Nemeth on drums.

"Tethered" begins subtly, with vibes only, then the band slowly builds up. Once the sax comes forward, Nemeth throws in some emphatic tom-tom work before the song settles back into the soft mood. Beckham is reminiscent of Burton, or Lionel Hampton, with his move.

Nemeth's 3/4 rhythm leads off "Tiny Star." Cheek's soprano sax softly backs Beckham's lead, but Nemeth's toms and cymbals score early on. As the song shifts into a long vibes solo, the piano is more involved. Beckham sits out Hey's solo, while Nemeth continues to mix it up in the background and Cheek contributes his own solo.

Like several other tracks, "Carnival" begins with a single instrument—this time, the piano—playing softly. The tenor sax and vibes harmonize on the melody during the song's early stage. Piano and drums are thoroughly engaged during Beckham's solo. The bass is more involved, as well. Just as the vibes gain intensity, Beckham gives way to Cheek. The sax goes through some rapid-fire phrases, exploring the depths of its range and wailing on the high notes.

At just over five minutes, "Parting the Water" is the one short track in the set. Beckham and his band have plenty of room to stretch out, whether complementing a solo or interacting with one another. Beckham wrote all eight tracks, which come together in a way that demonstrates his versatility as both a bandleader and as a supporting band member.

Track Listing: Tethered; In Flight; Tiny Star; Parting the Water; Carnival; World Cup; Cee's and Dee's; Grillin'.

Personnel: Tom Beckham: vibraphone; Chris Cheek: saxophones; Henry Hey: piano; Matt Clohesy: bass; Ferenc Nemeth: drums.

Title: Rebound | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Apria Records


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