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Artwork| Tracklist | Credits

1. Brake’s Sake feat. Dontae Winslow

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

solo: Dontae Winslow – trumpet and rap

trumpets: Bijon Watson, Jamie Hovorka, James Ford, Brian Swartz

woodwinds: Bob Sheppard, Danny Janklow, Tom Luer

2. Played Twice

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

solos: Ben Shepherd – bass; Bob Sheppard – soprano saxophone

trumpets: Bijon Watson, Jamie Hovorka, James Ford, Brian Swartz

woodwinds: Bob Sheppard, Danny Janklow, Tom Luer

3. Crepuscule With Nellie

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

guest appearance by Regina Carter – violin

trumpets: Bijon Watson, Jamie Hovorka, James Ford, Brian Swartz

woodwinds: Bob Sheppard, Danny Janklow, Tom Luer

4. Evidence

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

guest appearances by Kamasi Washington – tenor saxophone; Conrad Herwig – trombone

solo: Ben Shepherd – bass, trumpet: Brandyn Philips

woodwinds: Thomas Peterson, Adam Schroeder, Alex Budman

5. Ugly Beauty/Pannonica

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

solo: Francisco Torres – trombone

trumpets: Bijon Watson, Jamie Hovorka, James Ford, Brian Swartz

woodwinds: Bob Sheppard, Danny Janklow, Tom Luer

6. I Mean You

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

solos: Danny Janklow – alto saxophone; Brian Swartz – trumpet; Adam Schroeder – baritone saxophone

trumpets: Bijon Watson, Jamie Hovorka, James Ford, Brian Swartz

woodwinds: Bob Sheppard, Danny Janklow, Tom Luer

7. Light Blue

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

solos: Brian Swartz – trumpet; John Beasley – organ

trumpets: Bijon Watson, Jamie Hovorka, James Ford, Brian Swartz

woodwinds: Bob Sheppard, Danny Janklow, Tom Luer

drums: Gene Coye

8. Dear Ruby

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

guest appearance by Dianne Reeves – vocals,t rumpet: Brandyn Philips

woodwinds: Thomas Peterson, Adam Schroeder, Alex Budman

9. Criss Cross

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

guest appearance by Pedrito Martinez – conga and bata

solos: Tom Luer – tenor saxophone; John Beasley – piano

trumpets: Bijon Watson, Jamie Hovorka, James Ford, Brian Swartz

woodwinds: Bob Sheppard, Danny Janklow, Tom Luer

10. Work

piano, synthesizer: John Beasley

acoustic and electric bass: Ben Shepherd

drums: Terreon Gully

solo: Ryan Dragon – trombone

trumpets: Bijon Watson, Jamie Hovorka, James Ford, Brian Swartz

woodwinds: Bob Sheppard, Danny Janklow, Tom Luer

NEW ALBUM

MONK’estra, Vol. 2

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If one were to have access to a time machine and could go back to see legendary bandleader Thelonious Monk in concert during the 1950s and ‘60s, you’d likely see him so compelled by the music that he would retreat from his piano mid-performance and conduct his band, no matter how small or large, through an impassioned dance. But behind the joyous dance that overtook the stage lay the societal struggles a jazz musician endured to present that 90 minutes of musical freedom – a tale of police harassment, systemic oppression and constant battles for equality. Fast forward to 2017 and composer-arranger-pianist John Beasley is using Monk’s spontaneous movements and experiences as the basis for conducting radically reconceived versions of the late composer’s music for his critically acclaimed big band project: MONK’estra

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John Beasley

Product#: MAC1113|Released: 08/19/16

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John Beasley Presents MONK'estra Vol. 1

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Bio


Born in Louisiana, Beasley started writing arrangements in junior high school, which sparked the attention of Jimmy Lyons—the founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival—who recommended him for a scholarship at the Stan Kenton summer jazz camp. The pianist cut his teeth with Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard in the 1980s and has since performed and recorded with a who’s who of artists including, Steely Dan, Dianne Reeves, Chaka Khan, Christian McBride, Sergio Mendes, Herbie Hancock, John Patittucci, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Queen Latifah and AR Rahman, among others.

Living in Hollywood, Beasley juggled a touring musician’s schedule while working in studios composing for award-winning television sitcoms including Fame, Cheers, Family Ties, Star Trek, to name a few. He has worked with multiple Oscar-nominated film composer Thomas Newman for three decades on credits including James Bond Spectre and Skyfall, Get On Up: James Brown, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel I & II, Finding Nemo & Finding Dory, Wall-E, Shawshank Redemption and more. In the era of reality singing shows, Beasley was Lead Arranger for the juggernaut American Idol and helped usher in Carrie Underwood to victory in 2005 as Associate Musical Producer. He directed several TV shows, including Duets, Sing Your Face Off, and Sports Illustrated, 50th Anniversary.

While touring with Miles Davis, Beasley was inspired to make his first of eleven recordings, Cauldron—which was produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan-and went on to earn a GRAMMY® Award-nomination for his 2011 release Positootly!.

He has since served as musical director for the Thelonious Monk Institute’s gala concerts since 2011, guiding legends and the next generation of jazz greats through all-star tributes to Quincy Jones, Bill Clinton, George Duke and Aretha Franklin. Also, since UNESCO’s inauguration of International Jazz Day in 2012, Beasley has directed each global annual concert from Paris, Istanbul, Osaka, Cuba to the notable concert at the White House in 2016 hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Beasley seamlessly shaped the televised Jazz at the White House concert featuring Aretha Franklin, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Joey Alexander and Sting through a night of swing and celebration. This earned him an Emmy nomination.

Beasley continues to be a chameleon putting on many hats as the calls come in. He co-produced two albums with Weather Report’s Peter Erskine, the first, Dr.Um, earned a 2017 GRAMMY® nomination. For two seasons, he directed the Toyota Symphonies for Youth: “Jazz and the Orchestra” for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Soul, blues and gospel singer Ruthie Foster engaged John to arrange songs for her performance with the Latvian Radio Big Band, which he conducted last month. For Thelonious Monk’s centennial celebration in Los Angeles, Angel City Jazz has appointed Beasley as Artistic Director. He has programmed an Afro-Cuban band to feature a classic recording Carmen Sings Monk with Dee Dee Bridgewater. The second set will feature DJs reimagining Beasley’s MONK’estra Vol. 1 imaginations of Thelonious Monk’s genius compositions.

John Beasley’s MONK’estra World Tour Info: www.JohnBeasleyMusic.com

The band is my piano. It gives me the opportunity to change the music on the spot by conducting.

News

What Does a Music Director Do?   06.09.16

Most important, he hires the best band possible. “You have to hire people that have experience; you can’t hire people that are going to be prima donnas on the road,” John Beasley says. “So lesson number one in being an MD: Hire people you know who are totally professional and will have your back.”

John Beasley Remembers Steely Dan’s Walter Becker: ‘He Had a Way of Getting Everybody Laughing’   06.09.16

John Beasley considered the late Walter Becker an essential mentor and a key figure in his own career. The Grammy-nominated keyboardist, composer and arranger started working with Becker in 1987. 

Top Picks: ‘MONK’estra, Vol. 1,’ WBUR’s ‘Kind World’ podcast, and more [News Hub]   06.09.16

The Kind World podcast from WBUR is sure to make your day a little brighter. The podcast tells stories about people who have been affected in a positive way by others. John Beasley orchestrates a 15-piece big band of Los Angeles’s finest jazz musicians. MONK’estra, Vol. 1 is, as the man himself might say, a gas.

John Beasley MONK’estra Review [DownBeat Editor’s Pick]   06.09.16

There is so much hep stuff happening in these new big band arrangements of tunes by Thelonious Monk that I was transported to another realm, one where the car seems capable of driving itself. 

Keyboard Magazine’s 2016 Top 10 Music Lists   06.09.16

Keyboard Magazine's 2016 Top 10 Music Lists featuring Mack Avenue artists John Beasley and Yellowjackets. Our hope is that the releases below will lead you to artists you haven't heard (or remind you of some you may have missed or forgotten).

“SOUNDS OF SUMMER” WITH JOHN BEASLEY’S MONKESTRA   06.09.16

Host Bonnie Johnson continues her "Sounds of Summer" series with pianist, composer, and arranger John Beasley about his new release MONK’estra, Volume 1 (Mack Avenue Records). The GRAMMY® and Emmy Award-nominated bandleader will take his 15-piece big band out on a European tour in anticipation of Thelonious Monk's imminent centennial in 2017.

Winter in America   06.09.16

John Beasley’s MONK’estra performed their empathetic, swinging and sometimes hiphop-tinged revisions of Thelonious Monk tunes at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Lincoln Centre on Thursday night, in front of a window with a view of Trump Tower. And, as Beasley reminded us, Monk himself had grown up literally only a stone’s throw away, on West 63rd Street.

John Beasley, Bearing New “Evidence,” Announces His ‘MONK’estra Vol. 2’   06.09.16

MONK’estra, Vol. 1 was released on Mack Avenue last year, garnering two Grammy nominations and critical acclaim. In the wake of that release, Beasley took the band on tour, before returning to the studio to make MONK’estra, Vol. 2.

Jazzing up the winter   06.09.16

Grammy-nominated jazz musician John Beasley, who has collaborated with many famous artists such as Miles Davis, Sergio Mendes, Fourplay, Al Jearreau, Chaka Khan, Barbra Streisand and James Brown, was invited as the main guest of the festival and will lead five jazz sessions during the event.

Not Your Father’s Big Band   06.09.16

On Monk’estra Vol. 1 (Mack Avenue), L.A. keyboardist-composer-arranger John Beasley brings that same kind of boundless energy and fresh vision to the music of Thelonious Monk.

Bay Area celebrates Thelonious Monk at 100: ‘We’re just catching up now’   06.09.16

Los Angeles pianist John Beasley’s 15-piece MONK’estra, focusing on arrangements from two recent eponymous albums. Beasley seeks to infuse Monk’s music with contemporary cadences while evoking the challenges faced by the composer as a black man in a rigged environment.

John Beasley’s MONK’estra Reinvents Thelonious Monk for the 21st Century [LA Weekly]   06.09.16

Jazz pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader John Beasley began his career in the early 1980s, around the time jazz’s Young Men in Suits proclaimed that bebop was the one true way of life. They spoke solemnly about “keeping the flame,” “honoring the tradition” and other such homilies. Record companies, clubs and festivals got out their checkbooks and rewarded these young firebrands, many of whom would have been rated as just OK in the eras they sought to reconstitute.

UCLA music lecturer drums up Grammy-nominated jazz album   06.09.16

"Last year, Justo Almario played saxophone with pianist and composer John Beasley and his big band on the album “MONK’estra, Vol. 1,” which is currently nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category."

Beasley’s MONK’estra Takes Thelonious’ Tunes on Wild Ride   06.09.16

From the Afro-Cuban re-imagining of “Epistrophy” to a lively rap version of “Brake’s Sake,” Thelonious Monk’s classic tunes were taken for a wild ride by pianist-bandleader John Beasley’s 15-piece MONK’estra big band at the opening night of the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Show #234: John Beasley’s MONK’estra Reimagines the Music of Thelonious Monk   06.09.16

On this week’s Rhythm Planet show, I catch up with the multi-talented pianist/conductor/arranger John Beasley. Beasley and his big band, MONK’estra, have gained widespread renown and two Grammy nominations for their creative re-imagining of the music of Thelonious Sphere Monk in John Beasley Presents MONK’estra Vol. 1.

‘American Idol’ vet John Beasley salutes Thelonoius Monk with MONK’estra   06.09.16

“I like the word ‘playfulness,’ because I’ve been saying ‘humorous’ and playful is more accurate,” said Beasley, who was not yet a teenager when he got hooked on Monk.

ALBUM REVIEWS: JOHN BEASLEY ‘MONK’ESTRA, VOL. 2’ CD (MACK AVENUE) 4/5   06.09.16

It is one hundred years this October since Thelonius Monk was born in 1917 and to mark this commemoration of an iconic and highly creative and innovative musician, pianist, arranger and conductor John Beasley has produced the second part of an ongoing homage to the musician. 

A Conversation with John Beasley   06.09.16

Monk’estra, Volume Two is here, and it was well worth the wait. Digging deeper into the Monk catalogue, and allowing members of the band and select special guests to stretch out a but have made this is a delight. 

John Beasley’s Monk’estra At SFJAZZ   06.09.16

"Monk wrote with such originality and put his witty personality into his writing and playing. He was hip to an 11 year old." — John Beasley, Conductor & Arranger - Monk’estra

Notes on Jazz Best of Jazz for 2016   06.09.16

My best of Jazz List for 2016:

Another year has passed and many would say 2016 was a very tough year for music, especially with the loss of so many influential musicians this past year. The music has always been remarkably resilient and this year is no exception, with many fine new artists having fabulous debut albums

John Beasley’s MONK’estra, ‘Criss Cross’   06.09.16

Thelonious Monk was born 100 years ago this October. The tributes and revisitations are about to start rolling in. Leading the pack is “John Beasley Presents MONK’estra, Volume 2...

Upcoming Tour Date

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Mackavenue

John Beasley

  • date

    location

    venue

  • Dec 1,2017 New York, NY Harlem Stage
  • Dec 2,2017 Bremen, Frankfurt, Germany Sendessal (guest conductor)
  • Dec 7,2017 Frankfurt, Germany Sendessal (guest conductor)
  • Dec 11,2017 Vienna, Austria JAM Music Lab
  • Jan 19,2018 West Lafayette, IN Purdue University Jazz Festival
  • Jan 20,2018 Carmel, IN Carmel Center for the Arts
  • Jan 29,2018 Chicago, IL Symphony Center
  • Mar 9,2018 Los Angeles, CA Walt Disney Hall
  • Apr 4,2018 Miami, FL Frost School of Music