Ric Colbeck: 'a player of exceptional power and complexity'

Next to nothing is known of this enigmatic trumpeter. He was from Liverpool and became known on the London jazz scene in the early 60s, but spent most of the decade in New York. There he recorded a pair of albums with Noah Howard and hung out with John Coltrane, Sonny Sharrock, Jaki Byard and many others at the cutting edge of jazz. At the end of 1969 he returned to the UK and formed a short-lived quartet with Mike Osborne (alto sax), Frenchman J.F. 'Jenny' Clark (bass) and South African Selwyn Lissack (drums). The great Richard Williams interviewed him for Melody Maker at this point; it may be the only interview he ever gave, and has never been republished. Here goes:

Melody Maker, January 17th 1970
On the day the interview was published (Saturday 17th January), the quartet played a gig at the Crucible Club in Soho, which Williams rapturously covered a week later:

Melody Maker, January 24th 1970
On January 19th-20th the quartet recorded an album in Chalk Farm Studios, produced by one of British jazz's greatest proponents, John Jack. The following Saturday they were back at the Crucible, this time supporting Bob Downes:


And a fortnight later they were playing with Michael Garrick and Norma Winstone at the Jazz Centre Society in Shaftesbury Avenue:


Their album, The Sun Is Coming Up, crept out on Fontana in August, in a striking sleeve by Marcus Keef. By then, however, Colbeck had long since returned to America.


'He's a harsh player with a spurting, asymmetrical quality to his phrasing, often building solos out of a string of seemingly disconnected notes, each quite separate,' wrote Melody Maker. 'On the ballads he can conjure up an almost childlike air of despair and loneliness. There are a lot of reasons why you should buy this one.' Gramophone was also impressed, stating that 'Clark and Osborne acquit themselves brilliantly throughout the LP, both as soloists and in creating a varied and exciting flurry in the background.'

Unfortunately, I'm unaware of any further recordings of Colbeck, who apparently drank himself to death in 1981. If anyone knows more about this fine musician, please get in touch.