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July/August 2006

Gerald Beckett
Flute Vibes
Summit

San Francisco flutist Gerald Beckett’s third artist-produced album showcases his various flutes and piccolo in a set of imaginative arrangements of tunes by well-known jazz composers. In addition to his own title piece and one tune by bandmate Graham Bruce, the program includes compositions by Wayne Shorter, Hubert Laws, Richie Beirach, Hal Galper, Mal Waldron, Walter Bishop Jr., Don Sebesky and Jim Hall. Flugelhornist Bruce arranged three of them and Beckett the rest. All of the tracks place the flute (or overdubbed flutes) in the dominant ensemble role supported by a number of different instrumental combinations, including—in addition to a standard rhythm section—vibes, tenor saxophone, trombone, percussion, flugelhorn, electric guitar and/or harmonica. The well-executed charts, ranging from Waldron’s simple and funky “Blue Gene” and Beirach’s poignant “Broken Wing” to Shorter’s racing “The Soothsayer,” convey a host of moods and emotions.

Beckett’s colleagues are first-rate hard bop-oriented San Franciscans, whose inventive improvisations can settle into a tight groove. Beckett however, exhibits a looser approach to the beat, often resulting in phrasing that can be rhythmically somewhat vague.

A special treat is Damien Masterson’s down-and-dirty harmonica work on the Waldron blues and Sebesky’s “I Remember Bill.”

Originally published in July/August 2006
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