Friday, November 11, 2011

11.11.11 - A year of coincidences!

11.11.11 - A year of coincidences!

I have my own 11 phenomenon story. Back in the 1990s when I was hanging, writing, recording and playing with my pals John Patitucci and Steve Taviglione, every time we’d look at the clock it was 11:11 whether it was morning or night, so I wrote a song called 11/11 which was on my first album, Cauldron, featuring Peter Erskine,
Bob Sheppard,
Darryl Munyungo Jackson,
Ricky Lawson,
Rickey Minor,
Dean Parks,
Bill Summers,

To listen,

25:25 - 25 Years of the Monk Institute and 25 years of Catalinas Jazz Bar

Here’s another freaky coincidence, I wrote in my last blog about my over excitement on my role as Music Director of the Monk Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala Concert – that was before the show. Here are some of the highlights:

Jaw-dropping performances

First off, congrats to 22-year old pianist Kris Bowers for winning this year’s piano competition. Take your Monk Institute’s wings and soar as former Monksters proved on stage that night in various ensembles: Joshua Redman, Ambrose Akinmusire, Jane Monheit, Joey DeFrancesco, Gerald Clayton, Ted Rosenthal, Jacky Terrason, Bill Cunliff and Gretchen Parlato. Just to name a few.

Who’s Who

I didn’t want the night to finish because it was so satisfying to see the ensembles of musical icons that I put together just flowed and the performances were heart-stopping with Wayne Shorter, Joe Lovano, Kevin Eubanks, Kurt Elling, Thelonious Monk Jr, Kevin Eubanks, Jimmy Heath, Ellis Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Diane Reeves, Ron Carter, John Patitucci, Terri Lynne Carrington, Terrence Blanchard, Chaka Khan, Christian McBride, Jennifer Hudson and Herbie Hancock, with the WOW moment reserved for our one and only Aretha Franklin.

Monk you keep giving and giving.

Catalina Jazz Bar’s 25th birthday
So many of us grew in Catalina Popescu’s club. I think I played in the first week she opened on Cahuenga with a band called Theolonoius and many times with Freddie Hubbard and Patitucci. So, it was an honor when Catalina asked me to music direct her celebration event. We pulled together a stunning list of talent in LA who showed us how to have fun, including Alex Acuna, David Benoit, Brian Bromberg, Justo Almario, Otmario Ruiz, Bobby Rodriguez, Abe Laboriel, Marcus Miller, Ndugu Chancler, Peter Erskine, Patrice Rushen, George Kahn, Lainie Kazan, Mike Lange, Hubert Laws, Barbara Morrison, Lee Ritenour, Tierney Sutton, and The Yellow Jackets.

Read about the concert on LA Weekly: and view the photos on YouTube: We’ll have a film soon.

Catalina P, to 25 more years!


This weekend - SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC!

November 11.11 (Friday) 8 and 10pm Los Angeles

Bernie Dresel’s 50th Birthday & Buddy Rich Big Band Tribute

Trumpet: Wayne Bergeron, Larry Hall, Carl Saunders, Bob Summers

Trombone: Alan Kaplan, Andy Martin, Bill Reichenbach,

Sax: Brian Scanlon, Dan Higgins, Pete Christlieb, Gordon Goodwin, Sal Lozano

Piano: John Beasley

Bass: Rick Shaw

Birthday boy on drums - Bernie Dresel


4349 Tujunga Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 91604 - 818.769.0905

$25 -

November 12 (Saturday) 9:30pm Los Angeles

John Beasley Trio, Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith and Edwin Livingston

And many more special guests

Nate Holden Performing Arts Center -

4718 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016-1516

323 964 9768

For the launch of a book and DVD of Norman Granz, American jazz music impresario and producer, my trio will be the house band with many special guests to recreate ‘Jazz at the Philharmonic’.

Be nostalgic:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September, a month of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

In the Hive Blog - Sept 7

Tokyo Jazz Festival

To Japan, I admire your resilience. While I was there over the last weekend, you dealt with a 5+ earthquake and a terrible typhoon. Sigh! My Japanese friends, you were as generous as ever.

The Freeway Jam Band (Mike Stern, Lee Ritenour, Simon Phillips, John Beasley & Melvin Davis) that I was playing in fed off your energy and strength when we were on stage to launch the band’s LIVE concert DVD featuring music by Jeff Beck, Mike Stern and Lee Ritenour. Thanks for your enthusiasm.

I saw the great Kenny Barron Trio. I’m always amazed at how Kenny plays with such fluidity. How does he swing so hard with such a light touch? I was lucky to be able to speak with him. I had to tell him how I wore down his record “Sunset to Dawn.” He’s full of humanity and such a very encouraging person.

I also heard the George Duke/Marcus Miller/Dave Sanborn group. Marcus is always inspiring. Speaking of Duke, if you are in LA Sep 24, I’m playing in this 67-piece orchestra which is going to premiere a new work composed by Duke for Christian McBride who will be soloing with the orchestra.

And, then I ran into Sergio Mendes, my first mentor. I was about 20 when I joined his band and went on my first world tour and made my first single “Confetti” with him. We were overdue for a long catch up – after all, I played with him for 5 years. We talked about the first task he asked me to do, which was to transcribe Ivan Lins piano voicings, which Sergio had taped on a cassette player when Ivan was visiting him at his house in Brazil. I didn’t know who Ivan Lins was and was new to Brazilian music. Sergio was clever. This was his way of introducing me to the harmonies and, of course, I fell in love with Ivan Lins immediately.

Sunday with the Stars @ Theolonius Monk Institute Gala Concert
Speaking about masters and their gifts, this Sunday, I will be surrounded by incredible talent at the all-star 25th anniversary event, which will honor Aretha Franklin with the Founder's Award.

As MD, all summer I’ve been working on the music program, which will include an Aretha Franklin medley performed by Dianne Reeves, Chaka Khan, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Kurt Elling. Aretha will sing some tunes. Chaka will perform her legendary funky version of A Night in Tunisia. There will be an electrifying duet with Herbie and Wayne.

I still have to finish arranging a 14-min Monk medley of 7 Monk songs with 7 bands performed by previous Monk Institute winners, Joshua Redman, Gretchen Parlato, Jacky Terrasson, Joey De Francesco, Gerald Clayton, Ben Williams, Shamus Blake, Jane Monheit and others. The rest of the program will feature Terrence Blanchard, Ron Carter and an incredible house rhythm section with John Pattituci, Christian McBride, Kevin Eubanks, Terri Lyne Carrington and me.

As this concert is the day after the 10th anniversary of the gut-wrenching 9/11 tragedy, I am hoping that music will help ease some of the heaviness in our hearts.

Here’s my gig calendar for September/October – see you LIVE:
WHAT’S ON with JOHN BEASLEY - September-October 2011

September 12 (Monday) Washington, DC
Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz
25th Anniversary Gala Concert @ Kennedy Center
John Beasley - Music Director

All-Star Gala Concert will honor Aretha Franklin with the Founder's Award. Performers include:

Herbie Hancock,
Ellis Marsalis,
Jason Moran
Danilo Perez,
Marcus Roberts, Jacky Terrasson, Ron Carter, Christian McBride,
John Patitucci,
Carl Allen,
Terri Lyne Carrington,
TS Monk,
Jimmy Heath,
Joe Lovano,
Wayne Shorter,
Ambrose Akinmusire,
Terence Blanchard,
Joshua Redman, Kevin Eubanks,
Lionel Loueke,
Dee Dee Bridgewater,
Kurt Elling,
Roberta Gambarini, Jane Monheit,
Gretchen Parlato,
Dianne Reeves, Chaka Khan, Jennifer Hudson, Aretha Franklin and others.

Co-chaired by Madeleine Albright, Quincy Jones, Debra Lee and Colin Powell.

Full list of musicians and tickets:

September 16 +17 (Friday/Saturday) Napa, CA
Lee Ritenour featuring John Beasley, Melvin Davis, Chris Coleman
Sep 16 Bankhead Theater @ 9pm - 2400 First Street, Livermore - 925-373-6800
Sep 17 Napa Valley Opera House @ 8:30pm - 1030 Main Street, Napa 707-226-7372

September 24 (Saturday) 2-3pm Los Angeles
The 67-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Christian McBride and Mitch Glickman (John Beasley on piano). The program features the world premiere of a new work composed by SJO co-music Director George Duke for McBride and the orchestra, along with other specially commissioned works.
Free event - UCLA, Royce Hall Tickets in person - UCLA Ticket Office: M-F 10am-4pm

October 2 (Sunday) 7-9pm Boise, Idaho
Boise Jazz Society Concert
John Beasley Circle
featuring Bennie Maupin (sax), Kevin Brandon (bass), Marvin (Smitty) Smith (drums)
Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy - 516 S. 9th Street, Boise

October 7 (Saturday) 6-11pm Venice Beach, LA
First Friday’s Music @ Joe’s Restaurant
John Beasley Circle
featuring Kevin Brandon (bass), Marvin (Smitty) Smith (drums)

Make early reservations for jazz and fine dining at 4-star legendary Joe's Restaurant in my hood or come to the last set and get drinks at the bar and walk in to hear the music.

Joe’s Restaurant - 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd - 310-399-5811

Freeway Jam Band
Mike Stern, Lee Ritenour, Simon Phillips, John Beasley & Melvin Davis
Live at Blue Note Tokyo (Ward Records)
If you like jazz fusion, check this new LIVE concert DVD with the Freeway Jam Band, featuring music by Jeff Beck, Mike Stern and Lee Ritenour. DVD includes interviews with each. YouTube

Extreme Measures: Simplexity
Re-release by BFM Digital (October 2011)
Simplexity is a hyper-dimensional electronic jazz project recorded over a couple days of jam sessions and overdubs. John von Seggern brought together some of the most innovative and respected jazz players: LA sound designer/top studio musician Steve Tavaglione, keys player John Beasley, drummer Gary Novak, trumpeter Walt Fowler, and clarinetist/EVI player Judd Miller, featuring the last recordings of bassist Dave Carpenter. Concert schedule in the works

Dwight Trible sings, John Beasley swings
Release by BFM Digital (November 2011)
Launch CD concert to be announced.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Divorce, New York and Love Letter to Aretha and Monk!

Beas in the Summer Hive, Blog - July 6, 2011

Divorce, New York and Love Letter to Aretha and Monk!

Getting ready for a Divorce Party
The world will be getting a new country!!! On Saturday, July 9, The Republic of South Sudan will be officially the 193rd country and 54th country in Africa. I found this incredible photo of a Sudanese playing a trumpet, getting ready for a divorce party parade. Lorna, my wife, who had the fortune to visit South Sudan in 1998 to work for Doctors Without Borders during a terrible famine said that the rejoicing will be tempered because last month, 100,000 people had to flee their homes due to new violence. Read more:

NEW YORK, Empire State of Mind with
Jeff Tain Watts, James Genus, Antonio Hart, Rashawn Ross
This is it! So psyched about reuniting with my rhythm section “Tain” and Genus to play Positootly! at the JAZZ STANDARD, Wed July 27 – 2 sets. And, can’t wait to hear Antonio Hart’s chops esp. since he’ll be coming back from some karate camp in China (!!!) and Rashawn Ross who will be in between gigs with Dave Matthews. One Night Only so help me spread the word and get your tix early.

Aretha Franklin and Monk – An unlikely pair?
Fitting in my Artistic Director duties for the upcoming Monk Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala Event Sept 12 @ the Kennedy Center. Aretha is being featured, so I did this 7-song medley that I really grooved on. Thanks FaceBook friends for your suggested songs. The Monk medley put me in another familiar and unfamiliar world. Thelonious, YOU modernist genius!

Jazz Inside magazine – July 2011 issue – Interview about me playing with Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis –

Here’s the listing of my current projects and upcoming gigs. Hope to see you at a gig!

WHAT’S ON with JOHN BEASLEY July-Sep 2011

July in the Hive, Los Angeles
Working on a movie score with the ever brilliant Thomas Newman on The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Oscar-nominated Director John Madden staring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel.

Saturday, July 16, 8pm, Thousand Oaks, CA
Lee Ritenour featuring John Beasley, Melvin Davis and Ronald Bruner, Jr.
Open Borders - 125 West Thousand Oaks Blvd.

Friday, July 22, 6-9pm, Los Angeles
John Beasley Positootly! Jazz Circle:Kevin Brandon (bass), Oscar Seaton (drums), Dwight Trible (vocals)
Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA)

Sunday, July 24, 7pm, Los Angeles
Global Soul with Rickey Minor and Stevie Wonder @ Hollywood Bowl
Arranged music for this concert of soul sounds across cultures, genres and generations with final stop a 40th-annv tribute to Marvin Gaye’s classic album, What’s Going On with guests:.Sharon Jones, Janelle Monae

Wednesday, July 27, 7:30p and 9:30p,New York
John Beasley Positootly! Quintet
Featuring music from Grammy-nominated Positootly! album with
Jeff “Tain” Watts, James Genus, Antonio Hart, Rashawn Ross
Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th St, NY ¬ 212 576 2322
2 sets: 7:30p / 9:30p, $20

AUGUST, Bordeaux, Marciac in France
Roger Biwandu Trio, featuring John Beasley and Nolwenn Leizour
Aug 3
L’Apollo Bar - Place Fernand Lafargue, 33000 Bordeaux
Aug 5, 6 and 7
Jazz Club L’Atelier - 6, rue de Juillac, 32230 Marciac
Aug 9
Les Colonnes - 36bis, Place Darnichw, Monségur

September 3/4, Tokyo, Japan
Lee Ritenour & Mike Stern featuring John Beasley, Dave Weckl, Melvin Davis
Tokyo Jazz Festival
Lee Ritenour, Mike Stern, John Beasley, Simon Phillips, Melvin Davis @ Blue Note, Tokyo-Feb 2011

Monday, Sep 12, Washington, D.C.
Thelonius Monk Institute 25th Anniversary Gala Concert @ Kennedy Center
John Beasley Artistic Director
Performing: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, Ron Carter, Esperanza Spaulding, George Duke, Jimmy Heath, Christian McBride, John Patitucci, Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Arturo Sandoval, Terrence Blanchard, Jason Moran, Ambrose Akinmusire, Ellis Marsalis, Ben Williams, Jane Monheit, Kevin Eubanks, with special tribute to Aretha Franklin.

Saturday, Sep 24, 2-3pm, Los Angeles
The 67-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Christian McBride and Mitch Glickman. (John Beasley on piano) The program features the world premiere of a new work composed by SJO co-music Director George Duke for McBride and the orchestra, along with other specially commissioned works.
UCLA, Royce Hall -


Thanks for supporting LIVE music!

Facebook: johnbeasleymusicfans
Twitter: johnbeasley

Performance Links
Positootly! -


Interview with Pianist John Beasley on playing with Freddie Hubbard (8 years) and Miles Davis (1989)

JAZZ INSIDE Magazine - July 2011 issue

Interview with Pianist John Beasley on playing with

Freddie Hubbard (8 years) and Miles Davis (1989)

Interview Excerpt from the July Issue of Jazz Inside Magazine (Download the July issue to read the rest).

Jazz Inside: What kinds of conversations did you have with Freddie Hubbard?

John Beasley: There were conversations about comping. He would yell, “Don’t lead me. Don’t lead me.” And, you’d have to figure out what he meant by that. He wanted me to play more 13ths and 6ths and he wanted me to chug the rhythm along instead of reacting to what he was doing. I think that’s what he meant by leading—reacting too much. He loved to duke it out with drummers. We talked about harmony. When we played ballads, he always said, “Listen to Bill Evans.” I thought that was cool. It would have been great to hear those two guys together. I was more into Cedar Walton—and funkier players at that point. It was a little bit later that I got into Bill Evans. I think we were going to play “Skylark” and he said, “You need to go and listen to Bill play ‘Skylark.’” So I did.

JI: How did your association with Miles Davis develop?

JB: In the late 1980s there was this club called Les Café where everyone used to play at. I had a band with Garry Willis, Vinnie Coliauta, Steve Tavaglione. We had a once a week hit there for a couple years. It got pretty popular and it was pretty wild. It was electric. But, we would just improvise sets—which was different for LA for that time. The people who were more hard core in LA would come out and hear this band. And, Miles Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn had just stopped playing with the band, and began working with Miles as a right hand man. Vince came in and would hang out, and all these Chicago guys would come in and hang out - so I got to know him. He said, “Why don’t you make me a tape for Miles?” He didn't say Miles was looking for anyone. So I went back to my home studio and put up the Alesis HR-16 on a loop, and just improvised with my rig … and played over beats. I made a cassette and gave it to Vince and totally forgot about it. I put it out of my mind, thinking, “I don’t even want to think that anything could possibly happen with this.” A couple months later, he called me and asked me to join the band.

JI: What discussion ensued?

JB: Miles told me over and over, “If you can’t comp like Ahmad Jamal, then don’t play.” It was my first window into understanding how dedicated to art he was every day. Every night after the show, he would listen to the show. He’d have a cassette there, and he would listen — and he would have a comment for you before the next show. He would either call you into the dressing room and have something very specific to say—either about a section of the tune, or what he wanted from you. He was kind of cryptic the way he would say things to you. The comment about Ahmad Jamal … my first reaction was that I never heard Ahmad comp for anybody except a bass player. What I think he meant — and it’s come to me through the years — is, make a statement and get out of the way, and orchestrate. At that point we were playing music from Tutu, and Amandla. He wanted more of an orchestrated thing, rather than having someone underneath him, like Chick was in the 1970s. He was listening to all kinds of music throughout the day, Soca bands from the Caribbean … and he’d have his horns out and he’d be painting all day—even on the road. Or, he’d be talking on the phone to some designer about some new outfit. It was constant.

JI: What were some of the things that Miles pointed out to you when he would call you in?

JB: It was maybe that I wasn’t playing a rhythm right to set up Kenny[Garrett]’s solo. Or sometimes he would say, “Okay, tonight I’m going to feed you.” He would play these funny little riffs on the OBX and he would look at me through the top of his glasses. I’d be on the lookout for that. Sometimes he would grab my left hand. He didn’t want me soloing with any kind of self-accompaniment. If you go back [to the 1950s and 1960s) and listen to Red Garland and Wynton Kelly before they got that gig [with Miles Davis] and listen during and after—they really left room for the bass players and the drummer to react. As a piano player, if you play a riff and then another rhythm or comp after that riff with your left hand, you’re really filling up a lot of space. When Miles said, “Play block chords,” he didn’t necessarily mean for you to play block chords. He meant, keep your hands together—and play your hands as one idea instead of reacting to yourself. It really creates a lot of space for the rhythm section to play in, and for other guys to react to you. It puts the piano in a specific place in the rhythm section so it’s not dominating as much—so it’s like a mono instrument.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10 Blog: Big Band, Big City, Big Gala

My Big Band Life

When I was around 10 years old, my dad would take me to his big band concerts at North Texas State University where he taught. I wanted to be just like his students Dean Parks, Sal Marquez, Gary Denton, Gary Grant, Randy Lee, Ed Soph, Tom Malone, Lou Marini and a host of others. I started listening to big band records and went ‘nuts’ over the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and Quincy Jones records “Walking in Space” and “Gula Matari.” From 14 onwards, I geeked out at the Stan Kenton summer camps arranging for the bands. In a way, I started out as an arranger before I started playing piano.

I’ve now a stack of big band charts I’ve arranged for a few orchestras over the years. And on Sunday I’ll be in a dream when at the Playboy Jazz Festival I’ll be conducting the Resonance Big Band for an Oscar Peterson arrangement I wrote @ the Hollywood Bowl. Get thee one of those 17,000 seats, pack a picnic and enjoy being outdoors.

New York: July 27 @ the JAZZ STANDARD

This is one of the most anticipated concerts for me this year. Reconvening with the rhythm section from my Grammy-nominated Positootly! CD: Jeff “Tain” Watts and James Genus. I’m psyched about Antonio Hart joining the quintet and on a break from the Dave Matthews band will be Rashawn Ross blowing up the trumpet. Save the date, New Yorkers!

Going Indian with Thomas Newman

After working and touring with AR Rahman for the past year, I got the raga in me. I’m humbled that Tom is bringing me in to work on the movie score for Oscar-nominated Director John Madden’s next film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel staring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel. Will import some of the mesmerizing Indian musicians I’ve met and add their stunning talent to the score. And, bought a new toy called the Maschine and making some beats.

Sip of Bordeaux and a Mouthful of Marciac

Joining up with my friend Roger in his hometown of Bordeaux to drink good wine and play, play play. Then, a road trip to Marciac where the annual jazz festival will be going on, so we’ll bust up the town at the local bars.

Serious in September

Right up there with my NY gig is this DREAM concert. Suiting up as Artistic Director for The Thelonius Monk Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala @ the Kennedy Center in D.C. I’ve got really big shoes to fill as I will be stepping up onto George Duke’s podium. Pinch me, well, if you are not a hotel cleaner!

Confirmed talent so far is Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Lovana, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Aretha Franklin, Dianne Reeves, George Duke, Terri Lyne Carrington, Arturo Sandoval, Terrence Blanchard, Jimmy Heath, Christian McBride, Ron Carter, John Patitucci, Danilo Perez, Jason Moran, Ellis Marsalis, Ben Williams, Jane Monheit, Kevin Eubanks…and more to come.




Sunday, June 12 3pm-10:30pm Los Angeles

Tribute to Oscar Peterson: Bill Cunliffe + Resonance Big Band @ Hollywood Bowl

featuring Marian Petrescu and John Beasley (Guest Conductor/Arranger)

Saturday, July 16 8pm Thousand Oaks, CA

Lee Ritenour + John Beasley, Melvin Davis, Ronald Bruner, Jr. @ Open Borders


Lee Ritenour, Mike Stern, John Beasley, Simon Phillips, Melvin Davis @ Blue Note, Tokyo-Feb 2011

Wednesday, July 27 7:30 and 9:30p New York

John Beasley Positootly! Jazz Circle

Featuring Jeff “Tain” Watts, James Genus, Antonio Hart, Rashawn Ross playing music from Grammy-nominated Positootly!

Jazz Standard - 2 sets: 7:30 and 9:30p - $20

AUGUST Bordeaux, Marciac in France

Roger Biwandu Trio, featuring John Beasley and Nolwenn Leizour
Aug 3 - L’Apollo Bar / Aug 5, 6 and 7 - Jazz Club L’Atelier / Aug 9 - Les Colonnes

Monday, Sep 12 Washington, D.C.

The Thelonius Monk Institute 25th Anniversary Gala @ Kennedy Center

Artistic Director, John Beasley

Saturday, Sep 24 2-3pm Los Angeles

Conductor: Christian McBride featuring John Beasley on piano @ UCLA, Royce Hall


Thanks for supporting LIVE music!