Gordon Beck should be considered one of England's best-kept secrets, since most of his recordings as a leader haven't been issued outside of Europe. This English concert is a happy exception, so the New World should understand what European jazz fans have been raving about for decades. Right away, Beck shows himself to be a mature leader, generously featuring solos by bassist Bruno Rousellet and drummer Philippe Soirat in his bouncing treatment of Ron Carter's "Einbahnstrasse." His post-bop blues "Miss Day" suggests a complex lady with many facets, hinting at her mystery with a dissonant introduction before opening up its theme to a much brighter setting. Beck introduces Cole Porter's "Everything I Love" alone, in a subdued mood, switching to a brisk tempo as his group joins in, with Rousellet adding another fine solo, backed by Soirat's crisp brush work. "Not the Last Waltz" actually has a waltz rhythm, but its furious theme and lively tempo would tire most dancers in a hurry. The elegant lines of Beck's treatment of "This Heart of Mine," with Rousellet's independent bassline, suggests the influence of the Bill Evans Trio, though the late-lamented pianist never recorded this standard. Evidently there was a technical problem at the start of "Race Against Time," as the music is faded up as it gets underway. But this minor complaint doesn't really mar this intense post-bop vehicle, yet another original by Beck. The English portion of the CD concludes with "Blues in G," a sauntering, catchy groove that doubtlessly set its audience in motion shaking and foot tapping along with it. The final selection, Ron Carter's "First Trip," was recorded in Paris six months earlier; Beck's extended workout is infused with complex variations of its bluesy theme. This top-notch CD deserves to be the one to make the jazz community as a whole to take notice of the extremely talented Gordon Beck.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden