Thursday, September 13, 2012

On bended knee for Brazilian legend Hermeto Pascoal

In the late 70s/early 80s, Brazilian music was very much the scene.  A lot of musicians were living in LA, so I was lucky to be able to hang in the clubs (even as a teenager) and hear Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Raul de Souza, Moacir Santos, Sebastian Neto, Joao Donato and others.  I got to know and played with some of them. They would always speak about this cat Hermeto Pascoal, who taught a few of them.  

So, I dug around and found his records and was astonished.  I learned what an experimenter and how progressive he is.  Coincidentally, a few years later, Sergio Mendes asked me to join his band and over 8 years my Brazilian music education expanded.  I was introduced to Ivan Lins, Djavan, Edu Lobo and others.

Fast forward 30 years, I’m in Sardinia playing at the Sant Anna Arressi jazz festival and who’s on the bill, but Hermeto.  I was like a kid in a music store!  He brought his band from Brazil that has a reputation to play really tight because rumor has it that they live together commune style in the country and play every day.  They were unbelievable playing a wide variety of music with no space btw the tunes.

At one point, Hermeto brought out a melodica.  He was playing directly into the instrument (without tube or mouthpiece) and it sounded more like a harmonica.  He was walking around the stage like a horn player.  Since I played oboe all thru school and dabbled with sax and flute, I wanted to go back to my past playing a wind instrument, so he inspired me to buy a melodica.

After Sardinia, I was in Naples and found the music street and the shop that sold melodicas - the exact one Hermeto had – a Yamaha in ox-blood color.   On a tangent, there was an 80s (?) poster on the wall of the music store for Yamaha drums and guess who was on it – none other than Peter Erskine!  Erskine is omnipresence!

So, I got a new lease on my musician life with this portable instrument. I decided to be a street musician and for three nights in sultry Naples, I pulled out my melodica and joined the musicians entertaining the dancing men and women.  Another night, I walked into a restaurant and there was a guy playing a cahone and a big Italian tambourine to people eating, so I whipped out my axe and improvised on a Neopolitan folk song.  Lorna dared me to find a street corner and play for pay, but no one was impressed or took compassion on me!  I guess I need to work on my melodica skills! 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back to my jazz life! Summer Gig Schedul


Starting tonight, I'm back playing jazz, my reality!  It was a lot of fun for 3 months working as MD for Duets (ABC TV) singing competition and backing John Legend Kelly Clarkson Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke with my Killa Bee house band (Little John Roberts, Sam Sims, James Harrah, Herman Jackson, Sharlotte Gibson, Jessie Collins, Ashley Rodriguez.  Joining us occassionally were horns and strings: Bob Sheppard, Gina Kronstadt Christine Wu, Dan Fornaio, Willy Moreno, Andy Martin, Francisco Torres, Amy Wickman, Bijon Watson. Hand over heart to all of you, especially Rickey Minor for your guidance and Robert Deaton for your confidence.  If you missed the episodes or don't know who WON, watch  

I released a record with Ndugu Chancler and Darryl Jones.  It's swampy, greasy, and tasty!  See quotes from reviews below.  Ck us out on YouTube and if you like, buy the record b/c it is our blood, sweat and tears project.  Along for the ride were Sy Smith, Gregoire Maret, Bob Sheppard, Francisco Torres, Steve Tavaglione, Dwight Trible, Monet Owns and Leon Mobley.  Steve Kempster, Yasu, and Grant William Nicolas polished it.

Hope to catch you at one of the concerts I'm playing over the next month.  Vinnie Colauita and I are going to make noise with Tal Wilkenfeld while she sings and plays music from her new CD just before I head to London to record at Abbey Road Studio.  Then to Sardinia to get the latin going when I reunite with Horacio, Yosvany, Kip, Richie, Robby, Yunior.  Just before that, 

Have a musical summer!
-beas buzzing in the jazz hive

Summer 2012

Jul 26, Thursday                 8:30pm                          Los Angeles, CA
Frank Fontaine Quartet, featuring
John Beasley (piano), Ric Fierabracci (bass), Raul Pineda (drums)

6725 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 466-2210

Aug 03, Friday                     6:30pm-11:30                Los Angeles, CA
Bob Sheppard and the Pat Senatore band, featuring John Beasley
Vibrato Jazz
2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel Air, CA 90077
Free – RSVP for dinner

Aug 04, Friday                     8:30pm                          Los Angeles, CA
Dwight Trible - The Music of Oscar Brown Jr.

Oscar Brown Jr, is a celebrated singer, songwriter, playwright, poet, civil rights activist and actor— famous for songs: All Blues, Dat Dere, The Snake and Water Melon Man. Trible and Oscar performed Brother Where Are You together for a documentary and maintained a decades-long friendship. On more than one occasion Oscar would take one of his poems and hand it to Dwight imploring him to "do something with it!" Dwight and company are excited about putting a new twist on these rare gems and invite you to come along on this magical excursion.

70 North Mentor Avenue Pasadena, CA - 626-683-6883 - $20 -$25

Aug 09/11-Thur/Sat             7:30p               San Diego/Los Angeles, CA
Tal Wilkenfeld  feat. Vinnie Colauita and John Beasley playing from Tal’s new CD

Aug 09           Anthology
                        1337 India Street 
San Diego, California 92101
                        619-595-0300 - $10-33 – all ages

Aug 11          
The Roxy Theatre
‪9009 West Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA
                  (310) 278-9457 - $16 – all ages

Just turned 26, she’s already recorded with Prince and Herbie Hancock and played with Jeff Beck, Sting, Steven Tyler, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Buddy Guy, and Macy Gray.
“There are plenty of bassists with staggering technique and chops, but few can make the instrument truly sing, as Wilkenfeld does…”

Aug 26/28                                                                          Sardinia, Italy
Sardinia Jazz Festival
Aug 26
Project: Conjure 33 year old project based around Ishmael Reed’s African-American riot/realist writing
Musicians: Ishmael Reed (voice) David Murray (sax) Yosvany Terry (sax, voice, checkere) Chris Thomas King (voice, guitar) Fernando Saunders (voice, bass) Anthony Cox (bass) Robby Ameen (drums) Horacio El Negro Hernandez (drums) Luisito Quintero (congas) Brandon Ross (guitar, voice) John Beasley (piano) Kip Hanrahan (musical director)

Aug 28
Kip Hanrahan / Beautiful Scars
Musicians: Brandon Ross (voice, guitar Carmen Lundy (voice) Fernando Saunders (bass, voice) John Beasley (piano) Charles Neville (sax) Alfredo Triff (violin) Yosvany Terry (sax, checkere) Richie Flores (congas) Luisito Quintero (congas, timbales) Horacio El Negro Hernandez (drums) Yunior Terry (bass) Robby Ameen (drums) Kip Hanrahan (musical director)

Time: 7:00pm
Venue phone: +39 781 966102

NEW CD: 3 BRAVE SOULS: John Beasley   Darryl Jones   Ndugu Chancler

Three generations of Miles Davis alumni (Ndugu Chancler, Darryl Jones, and John Beasley) join forces to create a rousing brand of progressive jazz-funk inspired by their Louisiana and Chicago roots filled with thick-pocket grooves and stirring vocals.

Early Reviews
“tangy, ass-wiggling funk
a groove so deep you could fall right in
potent pulse
contagious and penetrating grooves
honey dew sounds of southern souL
a fantastic recording that is simply pure funk
sumptuous potion of distinct, powerful and peerless music created by superb trio
a melting pot of jazz-funk, organic grooves, and soulful sounds”


S P R E A D   THE   W O R D!
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Update June: on TV, CD, Film, Concert


Haven't blogged in a while, so here's an update.

Senegal, Africa
Last week, I went to Senegal, Africa for the first time to play with the Iranian chanteuse Sussan Deyhim at the St Louis jazz festival.  Sussan brought together Will Calhoun, Alan Kushan, Jon Ossman to play her thrilling music -have a listen to Sussan's music

We had some boisterous times and meals with Charles Aznavour who was there to celebrate his 88th birthday.  French pianist René Urtreger got so many stories out of Charles and kept us entertained.  Rene worked with Miles Davis on the soundtrack for that 1958 Louis Malle film Ascenseur pour l'échafaud/Elevator to the Gallows, so he had his share of stories too.  Will post photos on FB.

Got some beach time at this wonderful resort Ocean and Savane on the Barbary Coast.  The band took the opportunity to visit Goree Island, where there is a museum and memorial to the Atlantic slave trade - The House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves) and its Door of No Return.  
What an emotional experience.

Back in LA, and working on the following projects and realize I'm hitting a lot of media this month:  TV, radio with my new CD, film with this feel-good film, and on stage at the Hollywood Bowl. 

Hope to see or hear from you.

WHAT'S ON with John Beasley Gig Calendar

EVERY Thursday June and July         8/7pm CT                    USA/Canada

ABC TV DUETS singing competition
Music Director:       John Beasley
Celebrity Singers:   John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles, Robin Thicke

"Duets" competition takes the Superstars out from behind the judge's panel and onto the stage. Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, and Robin Thicke set out on a journey across America looking for undiscovered talent worthy to be their "Duet" partner. Each Superstar will choose two singers to be their duet partners. Together, the Superstar and their partner will perform in front of a live studio audience under the music direction of John Beasley. In the end, one duet will be at the top of the charts and win a recording contract with Hollywood Records.

Tune in or record every Thursday:


3 BRAVE SOULSJohn Beasley   Darryl Jones   Ndugu Chancler (BFM Jazz)
Three generations of Miles Davis alumni join forces to create a rousing brand of jazz inspired by funk and soul with signature Louisiana/Chicago rootsy sounds.  3 Brave Souls self-titled CD features vocalist Sy Smith and Gregoire Maret on harmonica.  Filled with thick-pocket grooves, this collection of listenable, danceable, melodic music brings the funk and plenty of downhome soul leaving you foot-tapping and sliding.  

To listen, dance to, and BUY on June 12 –

June 27, Wednesday                     8pm                                                                Los Angeles
A celebration of MILES DAVIS
Herbie Hancock, host

Miles Electric Band, featuring Vince Wilburn, Darryl Jones, Nicholas Payton, Blackbird McKnight, Mino Cinelu, Antoine Rooney, John Beasley

Homage to trumpet player/visionary/modernist Miles Davis, from a complete performance of his masterpiece Kind of Blue, through the ’70s with the Miles Electric Band, to his pop-influenced album Tutu.
Miles Davis Postage Stamp Dedication – 7pm Hollywood Bowl's Museum Terrace Hollywood Bowl 
2301 North Highland Avenue
Hollywood, 90068


Director John Madden, starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith
Composer Thomas Newman, featuring me on keyboards+drum programming
Soundrack for SALE:

REVIEWER: Jorn Tillnes, SoundTrackGeek
Superb stuff. What makes this score special and different is that there is a lot of Indian sounding music yet you can still feel the Newman touch. What happens if you mix Thomas Newman with Indian music? I guess there's no secret: Pure bliss.  Sometimes you sit down and listen to a score that truly amazes you and take you on a journey you had not foreseen, this is such a score. The Indian music in this score is not just windows dressing but gives it an awesome quality. You have very Indian sounding cues like 'The Chimes at Midnight' and cues like 'Cricket Spell' sounds so Thomas Newman, but there's a lot more. I love the way he uses a lot of vocals in some cues to great effect such as in 'Night Bus'. The underscoring is so Newman but the added vocals make it exciting.

International Jazz Day – Paris, New Orleans, New York concerts VIEW online
The inaugural International Jazz Day concerts featured many of the finest jazz musicians in the world, including:
 Herbie Hancock, John Beasley (MD Paris concert), Tony Bennett, George Benson, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Gerald Clayton, Vinnie Colaiuta, Robert Cray, Eli Degibri, Jack DeJohnette, George Duke, Sheila E, Roland Guerin, Antonio Hart, Jimmy Heath, Barbara Hendricks, Hiromi, Zakir Hussain, Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo, Biréli Lagrène, Lang Lang, Lionel Loueke, Joe Lovano, Romero Lubambo, Ibrahim Maalouf, Shankar Mahadevan, Tania Maria, Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela, Christian McBride, China Moses, Danilo Perez, Dianne Reeves, Kermit Ruffins, Bobby Sanabria, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Bill Summers, Susan Tedeschi, Treme Brass Band, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Dr. Michael White, Ben Williams, Tarek Yamani.

John Beasley’s Unesco interview:

Playing on Wayne Krantz | Howie 61

Playing on my former Steely Dan mate with Vinnie Colaiuta and Tal Wilkenfeld, John Patitucci, Charley Drayton, David Binney, Keith Carlock, James Genus, Gabriela Anders, Nate Wood, Henry Hey, Owen Biddle

Guardian UK review: Krantz's enduring ability to make a single hook the fuel for long jams that keep shifting gears and changing colouration – and his flawless feel for both the visceral buzz of rock and the improv freedoms of jazz.
S P R E A D   THE   W O R D!
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Twitter: johnbeasley