Mick Beck

Composer, tenor saxophone, bassoon.

Mick Beck has been working since 1980 in jazz, free music and as a composer and club/ festival organiser. As a composer he looks for structures that can diversify and strengthen the impact of improvisation; as an improvisor his aim is to mix compelling rhythms, zaney melodies, changes of mood and flexibility in playing techniques to explore new musical possibilities.

After leading the touring quartet, Jazzmine, in the early 1980s, he was a member of Will Evans multi-dimensional group, Dan Kolobi, and since 1984 has been a member from time to time of Derek Bailey's Company. Blending performance with composition, in 1987 he founded FeetPackets, a Sheffield-based large improvising band which toured England three times between 1988 and 1990. It has given one-off performances since then when opportunities arise, and produced a CD and two cassettes. In 1993, he was a member of the 11-piece band which celebrated the Leeds City centenary with a specially commissioned work, Piece for 10(0) by Simon Fell.

Recent collaborations have included a trio with Stuart Brown, keyboards and Will Evans, percussion; pianist Alex Maguire, bass player Marcio Mattos, and drummers Steve Noble and Louis Moholo; Hugh Metcalf and Bob Cobbins; and duos with Tony Marsh, drums and Mary Oliver, voice. His trio 'Something Else!' with Simon Fell (bass) and Paul Hession (drums) toured extensively in 1993 and has produced a cassette and CD. Beck also plays straight jazz and in this medium has worked with, among others, Fred T Baker (bass) and Pete Fairclough (drums).

Living in Sheffield, he has always been a champion of experimental music there, and has organised open festivals, one-off concerts, regular clubs, and work with schools and children. Along with Martin Archer, he is a partner in the Discus record label and distribution network.

Mick Beck sees his development mainly as a small group and solo performer. He seeks to extend appreciation of harmonic relationships which go beyond the tempered keyboard, and to re-introduce some of the rhythms and instrumental techniques which have been ignored or under-used by contemporary improvisors. He also wishes to continue to be technically innovative on the tenor saxophone.

Recordings

1989, FeetPackets live in Leeds, Discus (cassette).
1988, Listen, Feetpackes, Discus CD01. FeetPackets.
1992, National Music Day Gala Performance, Discus (cassette). FeetPackets.
1992, Rear quarters, BFC39. Something Else.
1993, Start moving earbuds, BF10. Something Else.
1993, Music for 10(0), Leo Lab CD 013.
1994, Network, Discus 3CD.Two short solo pieces.
1994, Network: volume two, Discus 5CD. One short solo piece; one duo.
1995/96, Playing with tunes, BF20. Something else.
1998, Composition No. 30: Compilation III, Bruce's Fingers BF 27.
1999, Picture August, Bruce's Fingers BF 34.
1999, Winter pilgrim arriving, Discus 12CD. Martin Archer.
2000, The three b's, fencing flatworm ff019. Beck/Hession/Thomas.
2002-2005, Composition No. 62: Compilation IV, BF57. Simon H. Fell.
2003, Motion ejecta, CJR 1164. Fine/Beck/Hession.
2004, Meanwhile, back in Sheffield, Discus 21CD. Derek Bailey/Mick Beck/Paul Hession.

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