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.