As a Leader
Purchase “Flower Starter”
The unique duo of vibraphonist Tom Beckham and guitarist Brad Shepik is a collaborative effort which seeks to explore a mutual language. These two diverse musicians have been writing pieces that highlight the wide range of stylistic nuances and high-wire delicacy available in the vibes-guitar duo format. Drawing upon influences of jazz, folk, and modern classical the duo creates an intimate and dynamic music that is sophisticated, lyrical, and richly layered.
Chris Cheek – saxes
Henry Hey – drums
Matt Clohesy – bass
Ferenc Nemeth – drums
Scott Albin, jazz.com (November 2008) – Brooklyn-based vibraphonist Tom Beckham is a lyrical player with a flair for writing distinctive, memorable tunes. On Rebound, Beckham is rejoined by Cheek and Hey from his previous CD Center Songs, plus newcomers Clohesy and Nemeth.
The leadoff track, “Tethered,” is a good example of Beckham’s thoughtful compositional approach: “With this song, the pitch at the end of each phrase suggested the pitch of the following phrase.” Vibes and bass introduce the slowly building melodic theme, with Beckham sounding like a mixture of Gary Burton and Mike Mainieri. Piano and drums enter as Cheek’s tenor sax reads the same line, accentuating its smoothly interconnecting short phrases until the group ups the dynamic level, adding heat and emotion to what had been a coolly deliberate exposition. Beckham’s appealing solo is played with a warm, rounded tone and displays a sure technical finesse. Cheek follows with his always identifiable, inviting sound and an imaginative flow of well-formulated and resolved ideas. Hey’s piano solo focuses on sharply delineated chords and a series of cascading runs. Cheek again takes up the tantalizing theme to close out the piece, with Beckham’s animated arpeggios complementing him superbly. This track invites repeated listens, so compelling are the tune, the series of solos, and group interplay.
Purchase “Center Songs”
Ed Blanco, ejazznews.com – “…a winner of an album in all respects.” “Center Songs is well worth it. With terrific charts, a great sound and an impressive performance by Tom Beckham and crew, this is one entertaining album that succeeds in delivering a vibrant musical statement.”
Rhapsody.com – “Tom Beckham is a fine vibes soloist, but his sophomore release as a group leader shows that he enjoys balancing that with songwriting and group dynamics. Beckham’s approach is reminiscent of older band leaders like Paul Motian and Chico Hamilton (and also of some of Stefon Harris’ sessions) but Beckham’s work has a sound all its own — which is what jazz is really about.”
The Village Voice – “There aren’t a lot of vibraphonists in town these days, but Beckham would rank even if the field was crowded. His exclamatory way with the mallets brings lots of fireworks to the instrument’s naturally mellow personality.”
Peter Margasak, Jazztimes Magazine – “… 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 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… The rhythm section deserves special attention, masterfully sculpting crisp grooves that caress the airiness of the vibes.”
David R. Adler, All Music Guide – “It’s 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.” “…a superior conceptualist.”
As a Sideman
Views from the Inside – JC Sanford Orchestra (Whirlwind)