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"Positootly" - John Beasley's MONK'estra Septet in GRAMMY-nominated "Positootly", featuring Darryl Jones, bass; Gene Coye, drums; Bob Sheppard, sax; Tom Luer, sax; Lemar Gullary, trombone; Dontae Winslow, trumpet, rapper 

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"Letter to Herbie" - John Beasley (piano), Bennie Maupin (saxophone), Buster Williams (bass), Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums). 

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John Beasley is available to conduct master classes or workshops with solo or small ensemble playing.

Workshop/Clinic Topics:

  • Composition
  • Improvisation
  • Arrangement
  • Modern Jazz Harmony
  • Solo or Small Ensemble Playing
  • Functioning in the Rhythm Section
  • Writing for Television, Commercials, and Film
  • Electronic Studio Technology
  • Record Producer
  • Vocal Producer
  • Contemporary Singing
  • Musical Director
  • Preparation for Auditions and Performing
  • Bollywood Music and raga jazz

As a clinician, Beasley can share his experiences and discuss:

  • Imparting lessons he has learned from being a solo artist and musical director, and playing in the rhythm section backing up many of the world’s greatest artists, including:
    • Freddie Hubbard – The role of the rhythm section; playing in the “pocket”; comping; the necessity of maintaining the high energy levels demanded by Hubbard
    • Chaka Khan – Playing in an R&B rhythm section – simple and funky
    • Steely Dan – The role of a musical director; learning interesting and unusual song forms; rehearsal techniques; and voicings
    • Miles Davis – Phrasing, form, and contemporary jazz harmony
    • Carly Simon, Dianne Reeves, Queen Latifah, Kenny Rankin – Accompanying a vocalist
    • Thomas Newman (Spectre, Skyfall, Finding Nemo, Shawshank Redemption, Wall-E) – Film scoring techniques; incorporating samples and loops with orchestra.
  • Developing a unique sound – method and tools.
  • Composing and editing original material.
  • Playing in different styles, be it jazz, rock and roll, jazz, or R&B.
  • Production techniques using PRO TOOLS, synthesizer orchestration, sequencing, vocal comping, drum programming.
  • Writing for TV commercials, overdubs and tracking for records, film scores, emphasizing practical workable methods.

Beasley covers all of these topics under four general themes: Feel, Sound, Form, and Phrase.

John Beasley

GRAMMY and EMMY AWARD-NOMINATED PIANIST / COMPOSER / ARRANGER/MUSIC DIRECTOR

“Beasley, the one-time keyboardist for Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis, reflects a variety of generational influences, incorporating the emphatic chordal clusters of Herbie Hancock, the rhythmic quirkiness of Monk and the lush intelligence of Art Tatum into a highly refined personal voice.” –Los Angeles Times

In the course of three decades, Mack Avenue recording artist John Beasley has carved an enviable reputation – or actually, two reputations. First and foremost, he is an uncommonly versatile, unerringly exciting pianist who has worked with such music icons as Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard – playing in the bands of both these trumpet legends while still in his 20s – as well as with Herbie Hancock Steely Dan, Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, Christian McBride, Chaka Khan (and even, for one night, with James Brown). But Beasley is also an accomplished composer, and a distinctive arranger who works regularly with in film and television, earning five GRAMMY nominations and an Emmy nod along the way. And he has worked extensively on soundtracks, primarily those of famed film scorer Thomas Newman, including the James Bond hits Spectre and Skyfall.

"What a wonderful mini-residency at USF with the incomparable John Beasley!  The USF Jazz Ensemble loved preparing the captivating Monkestra charts.  But it’s John’s professional breadth of experience - having worked extensively in TV, film, and with some of the greatest names in jazz - that offered so much insight to the students.   You should have seen their faces as he shared stories of his tenure with Miles and Freddie!  Great stuff!!!” - Chuck Owen

Beasley’s arranging skills find no better showcase than on the albums MONK’estra (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), each of which received two GRAMMY nominations. MONK’estra is a smashing 15-piece big band that captures the spirit of Thelonious Monk’s singular music in fresh arrangements flavored with contemporary sounds that range from Afro-Cuban rhythms to hip-hop. Critics have called it “some of the most mesmerizing big band music of recent memory.”

MONK’estra began its global tour in 2017 kicking off in Pyeongchang, South Korea and finishing the year with the HR Big Band in Frankfurt, Germany. This year, MONK’estra got the show on the road at the Chicago Symphony Center in January and will have a world premiere of a cinematic concert “MONK+MONK’estra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall where Monk will ‘perform’ on stage with MONK’estra through rare film footage.

Beasley continues to balance a multi-faceted career that includes co-producing albums with former Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine; legendary guitarist Lee Ritenour; and oft-awarded vocalist Dianne Reeves. Every year, Beasley resumes his role as Music Director for the Thelonious Monk Institute’s globally heard International Jazz Day concerts, collaborating with the Institute’s Chairman Herbie Hancock. In 2017, this all-star concert was held in Cuba and broadcast throughout the country and on BET TV in America. The 2016 event was hosted by President Obama at the White House and was broadcast on ABC-TV, gaining Beasley an Emmy nomination for Best Musical Direction. This year, Beasley heads to St Petersburg to direct the Jazz Day concert which will be streamed worldwide on April 30th.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

PIANIST/KEYBOARDIST

  • Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Carly Simon, Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Lee Ritenour, Kenny Garrett, AR Rahman, Baaba Mal, Jon Hassell, Ivan Lins, Sergio Mendes, Yosvany Terry, Ruthie Foster, Dave Gruisin, even a stint with James Brown, to name a few.


SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY

  • MONK’estra, Vol 2      John Beasley conductor/arranger- Mack Avenue Records (Sept 2017)
  • MONK’estra, Vol 1      John Beasley conductor/arranger- Mack Avenue Records (2016) double-Grammy nominated
  • 3 Brave Souls   John Beasley, Ndugu Chancler, DarrylJones -  BFM Jazz
  • Positootly!    Jeff Watts, Bennie Maupin, James Genus -        Resonance Records Grammy nominated
  • Letter to Herbie     Jeff Watts, Roy Hargrove, ChristianMcBride - Resonance Records       

GUEST CONDUCTOR

  • Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Blue House Orchestra (Sweden), Russian Jazz Orchestra, Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, upcoming: HR Big Band (Frankfurt), college big bands, including Juilliard, Rutgers, U of Miami/Frost, Manhattan School of Music playing the music of MONK’estra

MUSIC DIRECTOR, CONCERTS AND TOURS

  • International Jazz Day galas: Havana (2017), White House (DC) 2016, Paris 2015 and 2012, Osaka 2014, Istanbul 2013
  • Dianne Reeves Many Rivers Civil Rights concert 2016
  • Thelonious Monk Institute Tribute galas: Quincy Jones 2015, Bill Clinton 2014, George Duke 2013, 25th Anniversary Gala Tribute to Aretha Franklin 2012
  • Tribute to George Duke, at Playboy Jazz Festival and Capitol Jazz Festival
  • Steely Dan Art Crimes world tour
  • Queen Latifah’s Travelin’ Lite 40-city US Tour
  • Carly Simon Aboard the Queen Mary PBS TV piano and conductor

FILM AND TV COMPOSER, PERFORMER

  • Films: James Bond: Spectre and Skyfall, Finding Dory and Finding Nemo, Get on Up (James Brown), Exotic Marigold Hotel I and II, He called me Malala, Wall-E, Shawshank Redemption, Godfather III, and 100+ films as drum/synthesizer programmer and pianist
  • Award-winning TV series: Fame, Cheers, Family Ties, Star Trek: Next Generation
  • Commercials: Oldsmobile, Blockbuster, Hyundai, Toyota, Dodge and 100+
     

MUSIC DIRECTOR, TV SHOWS

  • International Jazz Day in Cuba - BET
  • Jazz at the White House – 2016 Emmy Nomination for Best Music Direction - ABC
  • Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful, MD and theme composer - NBC 2014
  • American Idol (multi-platinum Carrie Underwood victory in 2005, Associate Music Director) FOX 2005
  • American Idol Lead Arranger FOX 2015 -2016
  • Sing Your Face Off - ABC 2014
  • Duets with John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, Jennifer Nettles - ABC 2012
  • Search for the Next Pussycat Dolls - CW 2007
  • Carly Simon A Moonlight Serenade aboard Queen Mary, Conductor - PBS 2005
     

ARRANGER ON PERFORMANCES AND ALBUMS AND MUSIC DIRECTOR REALITY TV SHOWS

  • Rhianna VMA performance 2016, Robert Glasper performance African American Museum 2016 Opening Concert ABC TV
  • TV shows: American Idol (2005-2016), The Tonight Show, VHI Divas special, The Winner Is, America’s Got Talent, Singing Bee, Duets, Search for the Next Pussy Cat Doll

AWARDS AND HONORS

  • 2 GRAMMY® nominations, MONK’estra Vol 1, Best Large Jazz Ensemble, Best Arrangement, 2017
  • GRAMMY® nomination, Dr.Um Peter Erskine+John Beasley, Best Instrumental Jazz album, 2017
  • Emmy nomination, Jazz at the White House, Best Musical Direction, 2016
  • GRAMMY® nomination, Positootly!, Best Instrumental Jazz album, 2011

BACKGROUND

Beasley is a third generation musician.  His father is a bassoonist, pianist, and composer.  His mother was a brass instrumentalist, band conductor and orchestrator.   His grandfather was a trombonist.  Growing up around musicians, John learned how to play trumpet, oboe, drums, saxophone, and flute, mostly because of his mother’s need for wind instrumentalists for her bands.

Declining an oboe scholarship from Juilliard, at 17, Beasley instead started playing in clubs before he was of legal drinking age. Soon after, he went on his first world tour with Brazilian artist Sergio Mendes, then spent eight years with jazz icon Freddie Hubbard, while keeping up with his garage band Audio Mind with Vinnie Colauita, John Patitucci, and Steve Taviglione.

Miles Davis call and Recording Career
At 28, Beasley got the phone call of a lifetime from Miles Davis to join his band. While on tour with Miles, he was inspired to release his first CD, Cauldron, which was produced by Steely Dan’s Walter Becker. His Positootly! album earned a 2011 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Record. In 2012, he joined forces with two other Miles Davis alumni, Darryl Jones (Rolling Stones bassist) and the signature drummer for Michael Jacksons Billie Jean, Ndugu Chancler to form 3 Brave Souls. This triumvirate wrote, as one reviewer said, some “tangy, ass-wiggling funk.”

Long a dream, Beasley formed a 15 piece big band called MONK’estra, capturing the spirit of Monk’s unique quirkiness, offbeat accents, punchy dissonances, in fresh arrangements of Monk’s and other classic and original compositions. Veteran jazz critic Don Heckman described Beasley’s big band and his talent as “some of the most mesmerizing big band music of recent memory …extraordinary orchestrating abilities, imaginative soloing from players.” MONK’estra has played to standing ovation at SFJazz, Walt Disney Hall, Ford Amphitheatre, Jazz Standard, and LACMA.