John Beasley: Everyone Loves John
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?
With [bandleader] Sergio Mendes, we played in this Roman amphitheater in Ceaceria, Israel, with the beach as the backdrop. [Singer] Dianne Reeves brought the house down when she sang "Bridges," by [Milton] Nacimento. With Steely Dan, 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 was the honoree, so I arranged another medley for [singers] Chaka Khan, Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves and Jane Monheit. The house band was a dream: [bassists] Christian McBride and John Patittucil [drummer] Terri Lyne Carrington, [trumpeter] PPAmbrose Akinmusire}},[guitarist] Kevin Eubanks with Gretchen Parlato singing backgrounds. The jazz icons also played: [saxophonist] Wayne Shorter, Herbie, [bassist] Ron Carter,[saxophonists] Jimmy Heath and Joe Lovano, [trumpeter] Terence Blanchard.
AAJ: What were some of your most memorable recording experiences?
JB: Steely Danthe musicianship and the aura from [Walter] Becker and [Donald] Fagen; John Patittuciwe would do all-nighters in the studio (7pm to 6am) to finish records; my Positootly record with [drummer] Jeff "Tain" Watts,[bassist] James Genus, and [[reed multi-instrumentalist] Bennie Maupinwe 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?
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!
AAJ: 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, [trumpeter/singer] Louis Armstrong, [composer] Jimmie Lunceford, [pianist] Duke Ellington, [singer] Billie Holiday, [saxophonist] Charlie Parker, [pianist] Bud Powell, [trumpeter] Dizzy [Gillespie], Miles [Davis], [John] Coltrane, [drummers] Elvin Jones and Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, [keyboardist Joe Zawinul, Freddie Hubbard, [bassist] Jaco [Pastorius] , [rapper] D'Angelo, [singer/keyboardist] Stevie [Wonder], Irakere, Jimmy Smith, [keyboardist] Chick Corea, [bassist] Larry Graham, [singer/guitarist] Prince, [pianist Thelonious] Monk, 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, 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).