It's hard to overstate the accomplishments of jazz guitar icon Joe Beck. But the amazing thing is, you don't have to know Beck's past to appreciate his splendid new album, Tri07, on Whaling City Sound. Applying the blindfold test, you know at the very least you're hearing a guitar player of tremendous mastery and experience, of freshness and innovation. Still, let's back up a bit, before we move forward.
Joe Beck's career spans five decades. He has recorded with a vast spectrum of the greatest talent in jazz. The names sound like this: Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, Paul Desmond, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Larry Coryell, Gene Ammons, Sergio Mendez, Antonio Carlos Jobim, David Sanborn, Michael Brecker, and so forth. The National Academy of Recording Arts And Sciences (NARAS) has honored him five times with their Most Valuable Player Award." Beck has also recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, the Milan Philharmonic in Italy, and the Paris String Ensemble in France. These accolades make for an incredible resume, of course ... and his abilities make for an incredible album.
Tri07, Beck's latest release, is the newest installment in Beck's impressive ongoing development, proving that you can indeed teach this dog new tricks. Made with bassist Santi Debriano and drummer Thierry Arpino, the record is unlike anything Beck has done. Fat grooves, edgy improvisation, courageous experimentation, and obscene virtuosity mark the session. Tri07's two day recording process was marked by vibes both beautiful and intense, warm and vibrant. In the disc's liner notes, Debriano admits being reluctant about recording such edgy material in the pastoral Connecticut countryside, suggesting that an urban setting would accommodate deeper exploration. But even he was surprised by the session's brazen reach.
Songs like the outrageous Alone Together," clocking in at over ten minutes, sets the tone, as it strays to some remarkable areas. Beck is free to stretch out, while Debriano and Arpino find a bristling turf of their own to discover. That's followed by an equally expository take on Cry Me a River," with Debriano taking center stage for a gorgeous solo. The opening Impressions" kicks off the disc with a sweet prelude and a nasty groove. And speaking of grooves, A Little Blue" has a phat one as well, underpinning some of Beck's patented blues licks.
It's clear that Beck and company convened to create some singular sounds, with no limits, no expectations, and no preconceptions, and that's exactly what they did. The Whaling City Sound production Tri07 is a unique and ebullient outpouring of grooves, expression, and interpretation. And, when you think about it, that's way more than you should expect from a jazz legend, a talent whose time seems to keep on coming.