Bar code: 8427328420754
Vibes player Tom Beckhams recording debut as a leader is an intimate feature of the vibes played in a pianistic style within a quartet setting, featuring Chris Cheek, saxes; Reid Anderson, bass, and George Schuller, all of whom constitute a working ensemble that performs in New York regularly.
"It is always a refreshing change of pace to hear a good vibraphonist. Tom Beckham's accessible, laid-back compositions and resplendent playing style
make Suspicions an album worth seeking out. Woodwinds and mallets are an alluring instrumental combination, and Chris Cheek's tenor and soprano sax work indeed shines against the contrasting texture of Beckham's vibes.
Bassist Reid Anderson and drummer George Schuller complete the lineup, providing a sensitive rhythmic underpinning for this pretty, melodic music.
Highlights include the slinky 3/4 of the title track, the driving Afro-Latin 6/8 of "Village Children," the lilting pleasantness of "Ascent," and the more angular, swinging "No Agenda." Beckham's ingenuity is at its height, however, on "Sweet Tooth," a three-minute gem built around a rubato theme; a two-chord vamp ends the form and is the only time the piece goes into tempo. Beckham plays similar tricks with tempo in the first and last tunes on the disc: "Village Children," the vigorous opener, slips unexpectedly into a ballad tempo toward its conclusion, while "Kansas Tale," the closing ballad, segues into a lively vamp before fading out. These mirror-image transitions are the essence of subtlety, and they distinguish Beckham as a superior conceptualist."
David R. Adler -All Music Guide
"Yet more than anything what this set seems most to resemble is the straight-ahead, post-Blue Note kinds of bands that Bobby Hutcherson put together. That is what makes it work: it feels like a band...The programme helps; all written by Beckham, that would normally cause me to doubt, but these themes have some imagination, some real length, as on "Village Children" or on the title track; directness in the bluesy "Snoop" or the boppy "Little Booboo". They sustain Beckham's point that they were written over a lengthy period. He doesn't follow up the implication, that they weren't just knocked off for the date, but that depth shows...Anderson and Schuller do more than support, they make it the real ensemble that it is.
They're good, it's good, it's the total surprise that makes reviewing records a worthwhile occupation."
By Jack Cooke, Jazz Review Magazine (January 2001)
"Vibist Tom Beckham is a recent addition to the stable, and his debut session, Suspicions, delivers a solid dose of clear-eyed hard bop. Joined by a superb trio of fellow Berklee chums and Fresh Sound New Talent regulars saxophonist Chris Cheek, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer George Schuller.
Beckham's warmly melodic writing is well served by his middle-of-the-road approach, one situated between the slow-burn soul of Milt Jackson and the pianism of Gary Burton, one of his Berklee profs. The rhythm section deserves special attention, masterfully sculpting crisp grooves that caress the airiness of the vibes.
By Peter Margasak, Jazztimes Magazine (September 2001)