James Beckwith is a keyboard player, composer and producer based in South London. After his successful live-stream at Ronnie Scott’s in February James has been invited back and will be releasing his second album “SE10” on November 16th.
Departing from the futuristic elements of his previous record “Long Distance”, SE10 takes a step back into the jazz music sound world that began his career, with his trademark synthesizer twist. The album is a work that is dedicated to community and deeply personal aspects of James’s life, and is names to the area in South-East London which James lives, Greenwich, which is also where he studied at Trinity Laban.
“The main focus of the album is to be personal” James explains, “the musicians on the tracks are people I’ve known and worked with for years. We recorded the album in my friends recording studio which I’ve been going to time and time again. I even slept in the studio by the piano for 4 days because I really wanted to get into the mindset of the record! Being in charge of this community for 4 days was a special thing that made the sound of this record really work”
The album dives into aspects of mental health, with the album being broken up with a series of ‘meditations’, ambient, slowly building synthesised pieces that reflect the three different celestial bodies which surround us.
“Ups and downs are a normal part of life, but the pandemic really took its toll on the arts and musicians, myself included” says James. “As a way of helping with this, I created these meditations are dedicated to the rising of the Sun, Moon, and Earth on the horizons, and use ambient music elements and multiple synthesisers to create the huge climaxes at the end”.
These produced tracks stand out, but the majority of the album is performed with the live band with added post-production. The starting track “Descent” shows James’s skill as an an arranger, where a synth and horn section choral migrates to a sweeping quartet introduction. This effortlessly leads into “Tekkers”, the technical display of the record where a complex rhythmic pattern underlines a soaring Tigran-esque melody. The synth-ballad “Floating”, a tender starting piece, features a beautiful solo by trumpeter James Copus that builds over 8 minutes to create a stirring end, and the two part epic “Muon” tracks invoke a Snarky Puppy-esque large ensemble complete with a dazzling synth solo.
The main personnel on the record are long time collaborators bassist Joe Downard and drummer Harry Pope, with Chelsea Carmichael on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet featuring on many tracks. Trumpeter James Copus makes an soloist appearance and the other horn section members are comprised of Sheila Maurice-Grey on trumpet, Sam Rapley on tenor sax and clarinet, and Joe Bristow on trombone.
released November 12, 2021
James Beckwith - Piano/Synthesizers/Vocals/Production
Joe Downard - Double Bass
Harry Pope - Drums
Todd Speakman - Percussion
Chelsea Carmichael - Bass Clarinet/Tenor Saxophone
Sheila Maurice-Grey - Trumpet/Flugelhorn
Sam Rapley - Clarinet/Tenor Saxophone
Joe Bristow - Trombone
James Copus - Flugelhorn solo
All Tracks Composed & Produced by James Beckwith
Recorded at Studio 23, Cricklewood, London
Engineered & Mixed by Guy Speakman
Mastered by Paul Jones
Artwork by Jack Richardson
Synthesizers James uses include Moog Grandmother, Nord Lead, Roland Juno 60, and Prophet REV2
Special thanks to:
Christian Doho, Eric Karsenety, Georgia Mason, Jack O’Hea, Joe Bristow, Joe Downard, Kathleen Shah, Marie Garance, Matt Roberts, Pauline Beckwith, Simon Baker, Theo Howarth & Todd Speakman
James Beckwith a is keyboard player, composer and producer based in South London. Combining big synth sounds, beautiful
melodies and jazz music together; James creates a sound that is simultaneously lyrical, mellow, and warm, with driving heavy grooves.
James has performed with Nubya Garcia, Judi Jackson, Sharky, Chelsea Carmichael, Jackson Mathod, Alex Hitchcock, Seed Ensemble & more......more
The entire group's groove dynamic is so fucking amazing. Shout out to Nubya Garcia, Joe Armon Jones, Daniel Casimir and that drummer Femi Koloeso. Keep making good music!!!
btw the tuba's solo was above and beyond my imagination Raven Branwen