Joe Beck Trio, “Get Me Joe Beck” (Whaling City Sound)
“My aim on the guitar is to try to get each chord to follow the preceding chord like it was meant to be there, and then sort of hint at what the next chord might be,” Joe Beck says, in one of several spoken introductions sprinkled throughout Get Me Joe Beck. The CD, recorded live in Berkeley, Calif., two years before Beck’s untimely death from lung cancer in 2008, is indeed packed with displays of guitar work that is as artfully logical and eminently musical as it is a thing of beauty.
Beck, demonstrating a real sense of intuitive interplay with bassist Peter Barshay and drummer David Rokeach, handpicked for the performance by the owner of the venue, the intimate Anna’s Jazz Island, offers fresh takes on some of his favorite standards. The trio’s impromptu synchronicity is revealed right away, on “Stella by Starlight,” which shifts from an unaccompanied opening to a mellow reading of the melody to a playful back-and-forth between the leader and Barshay, and some trading eights with Rokeach.
Beck’s impeccable feel for Brazilian jazz is demonstrated on Luiz Bonfá’s “Manhã de Carnaval,” spiked with bent guitar lines and quick drum explosions, and a beautifully resonant “Corcovado.” Harmonics clusters and blues-drenched phrases color “Georgia on My Mind,” while a hard-swinging “Alone Together” (also heard on Beck’sTri07) comes off as a definitive version of the standard, and the trio also offers invigorating workouts on “Tenderly,” “I Can’t Get Started” and “You and the Night and the Music.” Beck’s voice, tradition-rooted yet forward-leaning and consistently adventurous, is sorely missed.