Harry Beckett

The Modern Sound of Harry Beckett

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The front cover of this album is straightforward, almost demure: it shows jazz trumpeter Harry Beckett framed simply, against a black background, by his name in gold lettering. Across the bottom is a single dignified line: "The Modern Sound of Harry Beckett." What this somber packaging doesn't lead you to expect is the degree of modernity you're going to encounter when you cue up the disc. The only hint lies in the fact that this album was released by famed producer Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound label, which has been responsible for some of the wildest and most forward-thinking dub, reggae, and electro-funk albums of the last three decades. Having caught that little detail, you might be a bit better prepared for what you'll hear: the slow and deliberate funk groove, compressed horn tone, and nifty flute fragments that comprise "Something Special"; the (unfortunately rather mediocre) Junior Delgado cameo on "Ultimate Tribute"; the gently lurching soca rhythm on "Fantastic Things"; the chugging reggae grooves of "Out of the Blue" and "Like You Didn't Know." Sherwood's production style strikes a perfect balance here between sonic creativity and respectful restraint, and Beckett himself is brilliant, creating horn lines that weave and insinuate themselves through the grooves rather than riding on top of them. Established On-U Sound fans will find this to be an enjoyable curiosity; Harry Beckett fans may find it revelatory.

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