DANBURY, Conn. | Joe Beck, a jazz guitarist who collaborated with artists such as Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and James Brown, died July 22. He was 62.
He died at a local hospice after battling lung cancer, according to the Munson-Lovetere funeral home.
Beck was a prolific studio and session performer, arranger and producer, with an identifiable harmonic and rhythmic sound. He was honored five times by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences as a “Most Valuable Player.”
Beck got his start as a teenager in the 1960s playing in a jazz trio in New York. By 1968, he was working with Miles Davis and other top jazz stars.
After taking a three-year break from music to run a dairy farm, Beck went back to music in the 1970s, working with artists such as Gloria Gaynor and Esther Phillips, including on her hit single, “What a Difference a Day Makes.”
In 1975, his collaboration with saxophonist David Sanborn, “Beck and Sanborn,” became a cool fusion hit.
He also composed and arranged for both film and television, and played with the Royal Philharmonic orchestra in London, the Milan Philharmonic in Italy and the Paris String Ensemble in France.
Beck went back to farming in 1988, but was recording and touring again by 1992.
In 2002, he organized the 72nd birthday celebration for the king of Thailand, who played saxophone with Beck.
He last toured in December 2007, playing in Europe with fellow jazz guitarist John Abercrombie. Beck also taught guitar at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.