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Notes From The Coast

John Beasley: Everyone Loves John

By Published: March 13, 2013
AAJ: What is a typical day like for you when you are working at home?

JB: At home: wake, chant, breakfast, practice one hour, work, bike ride from Venice to Pacific Palisades and back, cook, drive to gig, hang with family/friends, bed.

AAJ: Can you name some of your most memorable live performances?

JB: I was in a band called Audio Mind with [drummer] Vinnie Colaiuta
Vinnie Colaiuta
Vinnie Colaiuta
b.1956
drums
, Steve Tavaglione, [bassist] Gary Willis
Gary Willis
Gary Willis
b.1957
bass, electric
. We had amazing gigs because we would improvise whole sets.

With [bandleader] Sergio Mendes
Sergio Mendes
Sergio Mendes
b.1941
piano
, we played in this Roman amphitheater in Ceaceria, Israel, with the beach as the backdrop. [Singer] Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
b.1956
vocalist
brought the house down when she sang "Bridges," by [Milton] Nacimento. With Steely Dan
Steely Dan
Steely Dan
b.1972
band/orchestra
, we had audiences singing back to the band.

Last year, I was asked to direct the Monk Institute's 25th Anniversary Gala at the Kennedy Center. I arranged a 20-min medley of all Monk songs, which was performed by Monk Institute's winners over their history. [Singer] Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin

vocalist
was the honoree, so I arranged another medley for [singers] Chaka Khan, Kurt Elling
Kurt Elling
Kurt Elling
b.1967
vocalist
, Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
b.1950
vocalist
, Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
b.1956
vocalist
and Jane Monheit
Jane Monheit
Jane Monheit
b.1977
vocalist
. The house band was a dream: [bassists] Christian McBride
Christian McBride
Christian McBride
b.1972
bass
and John Patittucil [drummer] Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
b.1965
drums
, [trumpeter] PPAmbrose Akinmusire}},[guitarist] Kevin Eubanks
Kevin Eubanks
Kevin Eubanks
b.1957
guitar
with Gretchen Parlato
Gretchen Parlato
Gretchen Parlato

vocalist
singing backgrounds. The jazz icons also played: [saxophonist] Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, Herbie, [bassist] Ron Carter
Ron Carter
Ron Carter
b.1937
bass
,[saxophonists] Jimmy Heath
Jimmy Heath
Jimmy Heath
b.1926
sax, tenor
and Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
, [trumpeter] Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
b.1962
trumpet
.

AAJ: What were some of your most memorable recording experiences?

JB: Steely Dan—the musicianship and the aura from [Walter] Becker and [Donald] Fagen; John Patittuci—we would do all-nighters in the studio (7pm to 6am) to finish records; my Positootly record with [drummer] Jeff "Tain" Watts
Jeff
Jeff "Tain" Watts
b.1960
drums
,[bassist] James Genus
James Genus
James Genus
b.1966
bass
, and [[reed multi-instrumentalist] Bennie Maupin
Bennie Maupin
Bennie Maupin
b.1940
clarinet
—we were in New York and we just jived; El Negro Hernandez and Robby Ameen records because we were always laughing; Producing Chie Ayado's 4 records in Tokyo; Working on live TV shows.

AAJ: Favorite recording studio or studios?

JB: Capitol, Stage M on Paramount movie lot, Rose at the Record Plant, Abbey Road. I used to do a lot of recording at the old Motown Hitsville.

AAJ: Favorite venues to perform live?

JB: Blue Note, Tokyo; Piazza in Perugia.

AAJ: Do you remember your early jazz influences?

JB: [pianist] Bobby Timmons
Bobby Timmons
Bobby Timmons
1935 - 1974
piano
, [trumpeter] Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
/ [drummer] Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
1929 - 1990
drums
, Quincy [Jones] , [organist] Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
1925 - 2005
organ, Hammond B3
, Blood, Sweat & Tears.

AAJ: How did jazz impact your life as a young musician?

JB: No groupies!

AAJ: How does jazz impact your life today?

JB: I cook the way I play!

John Beasley—3 Brave SoulsAAJ: Who, in your opinion, are the ten most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century?

JB: Impossible...but here are some: [pianist] Jelly Roll Morton
Jelly Roll Morton
Jelly Roll Morton
1890 - 1941
piano
, [trumpeter/singer] Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, [composer] Jimmie Lunceford
Jimmie Lunceford
Jimmie Lunceford
1902 - 1947
composer/conductor
, [pianist] Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, [singer] Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
, [saxophonist] Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
, [pianist] Bud Powell
Bud Powell
Bud Powell
1924 - 1966
piano
, [trumpeter] Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
, Miles [Davis], John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, [drummers] Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
1927 - 2004
drums
and Tony Williams
Tony Williams
Tony Williams
1945 - 1997
drums
, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, [keyboardist Joe Zawinul
Joe Zawinul
Joe Zawinul
1932 - 2007
keyboard
, Freddie Hubbard, [bassist] Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius
1951 - 1987
bass, electric
, [rapper] D'Angelo, [singer/keyboardist] Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
, Irakere, Jimmy Smith, [keyboardist] Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
, [bassist] Larry Graham, [singer/guitarist] Prince, [pianist Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, among others.

AAJ: The dreaded desert island question. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only bring 10 albums with you, which ten albums would you bring?

JB: Narrowing from a world catalog of centuries of music from different genres is always tough to do, but here's what comes to mind immediately: Miles Davis, Nefertiti (Columbia, 1967), John Coltrane, Crescent (Impulse!, 1964); Ivan Lins, A Noite (EMI, 2005); Quincy Jones, Walking in Space (A&M, 1969); Weather Report
Weather Report
Weather Report

band/orchestra
, Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977); Duke Ellington, Piano in the Foreground (CBS, 1963); Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis, Consummation (Blue Note, 1970); Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life (Tamla, 1976), D'Angelo, Voodoo (Virgin, 2000); Bobby Timmons, Soul Time (Riverside, 1960).


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