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Notes From The Coast

John Beasley: Everyone Loves John

By Published: March 13, 2013
AAJ: What part of the world are you in right now?

JB: Just got back from Boston, so I'm in my Hive!

AAJ: What are you working on?

JB: I'm practicing with Dwight Trible to promote my other CD called Duality: Dwight Trible sings, John Beasley swings (BFM, 2012). We had the CD launch concert Nov 1 [2012] in LA at Vitellos.

AAJ: What did you do after the release?

JB: Headed to Europe to promote the 3 Brave Souls CD in Germany, Netherlands, Austria, and Italy.

AAJ: Where do you find the energy to do all that you do and stay on top of your game?

JB: I have a daily routine and try not to break it. After waking, I go into my Hive and chant, then practice. I get energy from the projects themselves. All are so creative that I really don't regard them as work, or doing a job. I'm so lucky to be doing what I feel is the only thing I can do. I would be lousy at any other profession.

AAJ: How do you find and maintain a balance between work, travel, and your home life?

JB: When I'm in LA writing, my home and studio are 25 feet apart in two separate buildings. So, I do feel like I'm going to work when I step out of the house, though I'm usually in my pajamas all day.

When I'm on the road I've have Skype to stay connected. I can work on multiple projects from wherever I am because technology allows us to email music easily. It is sad that musicians do less face-to-face projects.

AAJ: Let's go back in time. How did your adventure and interest in music start? Did you come from a musical family?

JB: I'm a third generation musician. My grandfather played in territorial bands. My other grandfather owned a Steinway dealership. My father was a professor of music at North Texas University, Santa Monica College and also played in the Forth Worth Symphony. My mother was a band director and a great brass instrumentalist.

AAJ: What was your first instrument?

JB: Drums, seriously, on pots, pans and luggage.

AAJ: When did you fall in love with music and know that this was something that was going to be a real part of your life?

JB: My parents told me that they would take me to Opera performances and sit me in the front row of the balcony so they could keep an eye on me from the pit, because they didn't have babysitters in those days. Apparently, I was alert the whole time with eyes wide open and probably drooling.

AAJ: How many hours a day did you practice as a kid, teen, young adult?

JB: Didn't practice much as a kid because I wanted to be a football player. As a teenager, I played endlessly along with whatever record I was digesting at the moment. Now, I practice more than I ever have.

AAJ: Who were your early mentors and people that helped shape your talent and career?

JB: My dad could play any standard and he was a walking encyclopedia and could answer any technical or practical musical questions. My mom taught me how to read music and play intuitively. When I was 22, I started touring with Freddie Hubbard. I learned so much over eight years because there were some long stretches when we played night after night. Miles Davis hired me in my late 20s. And, I was a sponge and absorbed every instruction, note, and experience. Walter Becker took me under his wing. I learned a lot in the studio with him. He produced my first two records with Windham Hill.

AAJ: Did reading music come easy for you?

JB: I learned to read music early so not really a problem except for music with crazy rhythms.

AAJ: Who were your early musical influences?

JB: Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
, because he was the master of every format—killer record producer, film and TV composer, musician, jazz arranger and the coolest guy. And Herbie [Hancock] for his brilliant imagination. Miles [Davis] for his artistic courage.

AAJ: Who are your current musical influences?

JB: Today, I listened to Chico Pinhero that Steve Taviglione turned me onto—astounding harmonies, beautiful melodies, swinging samba which made me feel and laugh.

AAJ: What was your first professional job?

JB: I swept out U-Haul trailers. I lasted two months. I knew what I didn't want to do after that.

AAJ: What was your first big break?

JB: I played at Carnegie Hall with [flautist] Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
, [bassist] John Patitucci
John Patitucci
John Patitucci
and [drummer] Joey Heredia at age 20.

AAJ: Tough question, but, you do so many things and you do them well. Arrange, produce, direct, compose, perform, etc. What is the one aspect of your artistic life that gives you the most pleasure and satisfaction?

JB: Performing before a live, attentive, festive audience. Nothing to compare it with.

AAJ: What do you do for fun?

JB: Discover innovative, talented chefs. I love to eat and have made it my hobby to find great food and wine everywhere I travel. I also took up scuba diving and seeing the aquatic world.

AAJ: How do you relax? JB: I cook when I can. And, chanting keeps me balanced and focused. I'm a [Los Angeles] Lakers fan and a long suffering [Dallas]Cowboys fan.

AAJ: What is a typical day for you like when you are on the road?

JB: If on tour: wake, chant, stretch, breakfast, check out the city/find a museum if I have time, sound check, concert, eat, drink, meet people, bed.

My James Bond schedule was wake, chant, stretch, breakfast, walk to Abbey Road (30 mins), work, beer at 5:30pm, work, eat late, bed.

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