Gordon Beck

Gordon Beck
Born (1936-09-16)September 16, 1936
Brixton, London, UK
Died November 6, 2011(2011-11-06) (aged 75)
Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Piano
Years active 1960–mid-2000s
Associated acts Tubby Hayes, Phil Woods

Gordon James Beck (16 September 1936 6 November 2011) was an English jazz pianist and composer. At the time of his death, 26 albums had been released under his name.[1]

Early life

Beck was born in Brixton, London, and attended Pinner County Grammar School – the school Reg Dwight (Elton John) and Simon Le Bon later attended. He had a sister, Judy.[2] He studied piano in his youth, but decided to go into a career as an engineering technical draughtsman.[3] He went to Canada in 1957 to pursue this first career.[1]

Later life and career

Largely self-taught, he returned to music after returning from Canada in 1958, where he was exposed to the works of George Shearing and Dave Brubeck.[1][4]

Beck became a professional musician in 1960.[1] That year, he played with saxophonist Don Byas in Monte Carlo.[2] Beck joined the Tubby Hayes group in 1962 back in England.[1] He led his own bands from 1965, including Gyroscope, from 1968, a trio with bassist Jeff Clyne and drummer Tony Oxley.[2] Beck first played with vocalist Helen Merrill in 1969 and continued the relationship into the 1990s when she toured Europe.[2] From 1969 to 1972 he toured with saxophonist Phil Woods's European Rhythm Machine. Beck recorded ten albums with Woods.[1] The pianist was a member of Nucleus during 1973–74.[2] In the 1960s and 1970s he was a house pianist at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.[2] Beck also played "experimental funk in the Swiss musician George Gruntz's six-keyboard group Piano Conclave (1973-75), and free jazz with [...] British improv drummer John Stevens (1977, 1982)."[2]

From middle age, Beck played predominantly in mainland Europe.[2] He also recorded albums with Allan Holdsworth, Henri Texier, Didier Lockwood and others. He often played solo from the 1980s and started teaching music at the same point.[2] He toured Japan with Holdsworth in 1985.[1] Beck stopped performing around 2005 because of poor health.[1] He died in Ely, Cambridgeshire, on 6 November 2011.[1]

Playing style

"He hardly ever played a cliche; he struck notes with a steely precision or a glistening delicacy depending on the mood, and his solos developed in constantly changing phrase lengths and rhythms that never sounded glib or routine."[2]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Voce, Steve (11 November 2011) "Gordon Beck: Pianist Renowned for His Work with Tubby Hayes". Independent.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Fordham, John (14 November 2011) "Gordon Bek Obituary". The Guardian.
  3. "Jazz breaking news: Jazz Pianist And Composer Gordon Beck Dies". Jazzwisemagazine.com. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
  4. "Gordon Beck". DoTheMath.typepad.com. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2012-01-15.

External links

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