Here are a couple of previously unseen snaps of Colbeck with the band, kindly supplied by Walker:
In the mid-60s Colbeck moved to New York, where he shared a Brooklyn loft with the saxophonist Marzette Watts, worked in the Record Center and Record Hunter stores, recorded a pair of albums with Noah Howard and hung out with John Coltrane, Sonny Sharrock, Jaki Byard and others at the cutting edge of jazz. In late 1969 he contributed trumpet, piano and harp to Dave Burrell's La Vie de Bohème album, a jazzy interpretation of Puccini's opera. At the end of the year 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|
|Melody Maker, January 24th 1970|
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, and no one bought it (a copy sold on eBay in March 2013 for $698).
'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 November 1981, but he has a loyal following. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth is one notable admirer, and described The Sun Is Coming Up as an 'exceptional and complex masterpiece' in issue #2 of Grand Royal magazine. As Noel Walker concludes: "Ric was a very charismatic guy, capable of great charm, but often moody and depressive. I was very sad, but not surprised, to learn that he had died so young."