Mick Beck - Life Echoes (CD Discus)
My first exposure to Beck was when he played solo in Brighton's SafeHouse in 2010. It was an enormously enjoyable occasion riddled as it was with humour and diverse sounds. Duck calls squeaked for attention with sax and bassoon.
Ferocious sounds mixed with a lighter subtle touch as they're all part of the same language anyway. After 25 years of playing these sounds become malleable in his hands. Sometimes they flow, sometimes they break and flutter like sounds heard for the first time.
Recorded in 2008 the album's 13 solo sections form a perfect example of his approach. Stutter and swing, clatter and flow all at once and somehow out of that it makes for melodic listening. He's working here with harmonies. Maybe that's what makes it feel familiar? Yet he's skewed it somehow to cross the line.
It's interesting to hear him playing solo rather than playing with other musicians, which he's more known for. The work becomes more introverted and thoughtful. He does give himself something to work with on 'Impossible to Say' and 'So…' which are self penned compositions. Also he reworks Eric Dolphy's '245' and Ornette Coleman's 'Free.' It's rather exciting to hear him play those tracks.
I wouldn't say the album was overtly challenging. Instead it uses more subtle methods of questioning the familiar. If there's someone you know wants an 'in' to improvisation, this is a good album for them to hear.
There are some fine shots of Beck on the sleeve. The front and back cover feature some great artwork by Marion Rout. HM