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


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