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Grammy-nominated, John Beasley, Pianist, Composer, Arranger, and Producer has played with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Steely Dan among others and composes for TV and film.
GRAMMY NOMINEE PIANIST / COMPOSER / ARRANGER / MUSIC DIRECTOR
Beasley, the one-time keyboardist for Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis, reflects a variety of generational influences, incorporating the emphatic chordal clusters of Herbie Hancock, the rhythmic quirkiness of Monk and the lush intelligence of Art Tatum into a highly refined personal voice. - Los Angeles Times
Grammy-nominated recording artist, John Beasley, juggles a multi-track career as a recording artist with 11 albums; producing and directing gala concerts for the Monk Institute; Music Director for US and global tours for music icons Steely Dan, AR Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire), Queen Latifah; Music Director for reality singing TV shows; composing, programming and performing on films and TV series; and conducting music clinics around the world.
His new band, MONK'estra is a 17-piece big modern jazz band which veteran jazz critic describes as Beasley’s envelope-stretching arrangements, his extraordinary orchestrating abilities, imaginative soloing from players: a net result of some of the most mesmerizing big band music –individually and collectively– of recent memory.
A natural band leader with a sublime musical ear and sensibility for all genres of music, major producers and artists have selected Beasley as Music Director for their special events or concert tours, including: • Playboy Jazz Festival: Celebrating George Duke! with Al Jarreau, Stanley Clarke, Greg Phillinganes, Bryon Miller, and others • UNESCO International Jazz Day galas hosted by Herbie Hancock (Osaka - 2014, Istanbul -2013, Paris - 2012) • Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Illustrated 50 Years of Beautiful (2014, NBC) • Los Angeles Philharmonic Jazz and the Orchestra 5-concert series (2012) • Monk Institute 25th Anniversary Concert Tribute to Aretha Franklin and Annual Competition Galas at Kennedy Ctr • AR Rahman’s Jai Ho world tour (US, South Africa, Europe, UK, Singapore) • Queen Latifah’s Travelin’ Lite 40-city US Tour • Carly Simon’s DVD Moonlight Serenade on the Queen Mary 2 • Steely Dan’s - Art Crimes world tour • Sing Your Face Off (2014, ABC) • Duets with Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, Robin Thicke (2012, ABC) • American Idol (2005 – Carrie Underwood’s victory and 2006-2012, 2014-present Lead Arranger) • Artist in Residence, CoArts Rotterdam Conservatory of Music 2013-present
Background Born in Louisiana, the cradle of jazz, Beasley started writing compositions in junior high school, the first one for the University of North Texas Jazz Band. Jimmy Lyons, founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival, heard Beasley's piece and recommended him for a scholarship at the Stan Kenton summer jazz camp. The song was then added to The Stan Kenton Orchestra’s repertoire that year. Beasley is a third generation musician. His father is a bassoonist, pianist, and composer. His mother is a brass instrumentalist and band conductor and orchestrator. His grandfather was a trombonist. Growing up around musicians, John learned how to play trumpet, oboe, drums, saxophone, and flute, mostly because of his mother's need for wind instrumentalists for her bands.
Declining an oboe scholarship from the Julliard, at 17, Beasley went on the road instead to tour the world with Brazilian artist Sergio Mendes and jazz icon Freddie Hubbard, while keeping up with his garage band Audio Mind with Vinnie Colauita, John Patittuci, and Steve Taviglione.
Film/TV/Commercial At the young age of 24, Beasley started writing music for Paramount, Disney, and MGM's television shows, including Cheers, Family Ties, Star Trek, and Fame. He wrote the Touchstone TV logo, which is still used today. As a studio musician, he has worked for luminaries such as Thomas Newman, Dave Gruisin, Alan Silvestri, and Carmine Coppola. Today, he is part of Thomas Newman’s core team creating drum and synth programming for James Bond Skyfall, Exotic Marigold Hotel, Finding Nemo, and Wall-E, to name a few.
He composes pro bono for films and podcasts for Nobel Peace Prize winning Doctors Without Borders. Along the way, Beasley has written award winning commercials for ad agencies in the US and Germany for over 20 years.
Miles Davis call and Recording Career At 28, Beasley got the phone call of a lifetime from Miles Davis to join his band. While on tour with Miles, he was inspired to release his first CD, Cauldron, which was produced by Walter Becker (Steely Dan). His Positootly! album earned a 2011 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Record. In 2012, he joined forces with two other Miles Davis alumni, Darryl Jones (Rolling Stones bassist) and the signature drummer for Michael Jacksons Billie Jean, Ndugu Chancler. This triumvirate wrote, as one reviewer said, some “tangy, ass- wiggling funk.”
MONK'estra, Big Band Dream In 2013, Beasley realized a long-held dream, forming MONK’estra, a 17-piece big band called. MONK’estra captures the spirit of Monk's unique quirkiness, offbeat accents, punchy dissonances, in fresh arrangements. Veteran jazz critic Don Heckman described Beasley’s big band and his talent as “extraordinary orchestrating abilities, imaginative soloing from players: a net result of some of the most mesmerizing big band music of recent memory.”
MUSIC DIRECTOR, JAZZ When Herbie Hancock rallied UNESCO to dedicate a day for Jazz in 2012, the inaugural concert was held in Paris hosted by the Thelonious Monk Institute. Beasley has since directed the Jazz Day gala concerts in Paris - 2012, Istanbul - 2013, and the upcoming Osaka - 2014.
Beasley also directs the annual Monk Institute Competition Gala concerts at the Kennedy Centre.
After a few years conducting and performing the Jazz Meets the Orchestra for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall, Christian McBride, recommended Beasley to replace him in 2012.
This year, the LA Phil, selected Beasley to MD the Celebrating George Duke! concert at the Playboy Jazz Festival, Hollywood Bowl featuring Al Jarreau, Stanley Clarke, Ndugu Chancler, Paul Jackson Jr, Byron Miller, Greg Phillinganes, and more.
Beasley has toured with A-list jazz artists, including Stanley Clarke, Dianne Reeves, John Patitucci, Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, to name a few.
Reality TV With the popularity of singing competitions, Beasley was enlisted to work on the juggernaut American Idol. In 2005, as Associate Director to Rickey Minor, he ushered the 12 female finalists by coaching and rehearsing them; selecting and arranging songs; and mixing the shows. In the finale, his contestant Carrie Underwood took the title and became a global music star, earning multiple GRAMMYs. Over the next 6 years (2005-2010) with Idol, Beasley was Lead Arranger and substituted for Music Director Rickey Minor on the song recordings for iTunes releases.
When ABC TV was looking for a Music Director for their reality show Duets with Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Robin Thicke, and Jennifer Nettles, Beasley was handpicked. He was also MD for CW’s Pussycat Dolls Presents, The Search for the Next Doll. Beasley returns to ABC in a new show Sing Your Face Off 2013.
Beasley has been able to combine being a recording artist, music director for TV shows, composing/performing on TV, films and commercials, touring with major artists producing and directing tours throughout his 30-year career.
Links: MONK'estra http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlmOfo0CDND_6ue3BU7Xtey8mkt-fHI2g 3 Brave Souls CD: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFD5DFC04E1CCC372 Grammy-nominated Postitootly! Album http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1h8LWQReiE&list=PL9CE90E63BF07FF5E&index=1
Duets: http://youtu.be/nL9eHUqKe88 - J Rome & Jennifer Nettles - Rhythm of the Night http://youtu.be/IUujxvZpdvw - Kelly Clarkson & John Legend - You Don't Know Me http://youtu.be/NUCkDDf3eS8 - John Legend & Meleana Brown - If I Ain't Got You
Queen Latifah AMA Awards http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Xj6VcS7gouU&list=PLC2587D44655CD7E5&index=4
Search for the Next Pussycat Dolls - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=856Y1wYymys (6:46mins)
American Idol and M-Audio - http://www.m-audio.com/?do=media.new&ID=399
Listen and BUY: http://www.amazon.com/3-Brave-Souls/dp/B007Y56IAA iTunes: http://bit.ly/N6w0yQ
----- Reviews----- QUOTES:
3 Brave Souls: “tangy, ass-wiggling funk...a groove so deep you could fall right in… potent pulse… great, greasy lines by Beasley…a fun romp ...more bite than a simple groove record …tasty stuff that needs to happen more often… contagious and penetrating grooves… honey dew sounds of southern soul… entertaining recipe of pop, world, R&B and soul injected with funk blasts and contemporary jazz class…. a fantastic recording that is simply pure funk…”
“sumptuous potion of distinct, powerful and peerless music created by this superb Trio”
“they collectively stir up a melting pot of jazz-funk, organic grooves, and soulful sounds resonate feverishly through the walls of these eleven songs is uplifted to greater heights by an extraordinary cast of guest performers”
Something Else! - Nick DeRiso - http://bit.ly/O515mY
3 BRAVE SOULS (R&B): An album of soul jazz that brings together three alumni from the Miles Davis bands? We are so there. And keyboardist John Beasley (from Davis’ late-1980s touring band); bassist Daryl Jones (with Miles for 1984′s Decoy and ’85′s You’re Under Arrest; and drummer Ndugu Chancler (who played with Davis in the early 1970s) don’t disappoint, creating a tangy, ass-wiggling funk on their self-titled debut for BFM Jazz. It’s tempting to focus on the great, greasy lines by Beasley, whose 2011 record Positootly! was nominated for a Grammy, but Jones and Chancler are just as important to this album’s potent pulse: Jones takes a vocal turn on the Sly Stone-influenced “Stay,” while Chancler — maybe best known for his later turn on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” — adds a spoken- word contribution to the sizzling “Nail It Down.” Throughout, they create a groove so deep you could fall right in.
Urban Flux - Rob Young - http://bit.ly/NcOPh9
Perhaps equally as important to their friendship, 3 Brave Souls collectively has an unparalleled common denominator. In fact, at various intervals early on they played integral roles and develop their character as musicians by performing with the legendary Miles Davis. Therefore, they unexpectedly became beneficiaries of their tenure with Miles. As a result, these astute alumni essentially qualify to make reoccurring deposits to others and frequent withdrawals from this expansive template of innovative, progressive and creative music rooted in the spirit of love, imagination and passion to play music. Initially when I placed their “Self-Titled” disc into the CD player, I thought so but I wasn’t ready to plug into the sumptuous potion of distinct, powerful and peerless music created by this superb Trio. The beauty about this collaboration is when you have like-minded voices utilize their resources properly great things can happen. In this case, we have the multifaceted keyboardist and instrumentalist John Beasley from New Orleans paired with his homey Ndugu Chancler proficient drummer-instrumentalist needed yet another essential alias to complete this task. Therefore, bassist, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Darryl Jones was the missing link to help accomplish their goal. Now that’s what’s up, this infallible threesome joins forces on their debut on BFM Jazz. Together, they collectively stir up a melting pot of jazz-funk, organic grooves, and soulful sounds resonate feverishly through the walls of these eleven songs is uplifted to greater heights by an extraordinary cast of guest performers. Out of the box, the trio jump starts the session with the gutsy yet animated funk baptized in a pool of organic, contagious and penetrating grooves embodied in “Black Friday.” As anticipated, this gem groans with tempting flavors, beats and accents of old school jazz and funk rests in the body of homegrown Memphis soul. Next we have the soulful, hip and mesmerizing vocals by Sy Smith, the songstress will simply blow you away with her downhome swagger on “Wanna Get Away?” Apparently the guys couldn’t get enough of vocalist Sy Smith, so they decided to marry her voice with Dwight Trible on the downhome greasy, easy and back porch Church grooves of “Nothing Left to Say.” At midway point of the album, the gifted Smith is showcased once again with the sexy and vivacious ballad titled “Love’s Graces.” Actually it’s been years since I’ve had the opportunity to savor the soothing honey dew sounds of southern soul this project embellishes, the lyrically persuasive melody of “Come and Gone” brings back even more sweet memories. The next song features two distinguished and unsung sax giants in their own right Bob Sheppard and Steve Tavaglione. They are featured soloist on the fusion infected “Ayala.” The band cooks rhythmically by gradually blending a pot of mystic brew of off-metered progressions on this progressively funky gem! Some artists are like fine wine they age proportionally and with maturity they simply get better and mo-better in a matter of time. Case in point, the multi-talented rhythm keeper of the trio Ndugu Chancler sings and raps on the funky and toe-tapping beats of “Nail It Down.” “Ubiquitous” is up next, this track features Beasley on Hammond and Chancler on the Kalimba solos mirrors the flexible melodies and grooves of the Crusaders meets Earth, Wind & Fire with a heavy flow of tenacious and relentless beats as the centerpiece with danceable disco layered over the top surrounds this baby from beginning to the end! Bassist Darryl Jones is featured lead vocalist on “Stay,” this Sly Stone influenced tune is engulfed sonically in this Titans groove certainly makes you wanna dance and shout. Finally, the album winds down with the distinctive harmonica solos featuring Grégoire Maret on the gorgeous “N2U” which is lavished with rich and compelling lyricism. I will say this without hesitation, this album is seriously for old school jazz-funk and soul music aficionados. The consummate voice of this determined Trio serves up a tasty gumbo of raw, funky and soulful music not often expressed in sphere of today’s music. Over the years cats like Beasley, Chancler and Jones honed their creative voices by performing with infinite number of artists and mastered their skills. In return, a plethora of records have been created and recorded by them. At the beginning and end of the day, when it’s all said and done this Trio’s groove is tight, funky and fits perfectly in sync with relevant music while adapting the mythology of old school with their “Self-Titled” debut ultimately delivers a powerhouse performance. Recommended by Rob Young | Urban Flux Media | Review
MIDWEST RECORD - Volume 35/Number 245 - June 23, 2012 CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher - http://midwestrecord.com/MWRBlog.html
3 BRAVE SOULS: Describing themselves as a funk power trio, this aggregation of three generations of Miles Davis sidemen, who have collectively played with everybody, join forces for a fun romp that feels like an off the clock session where the vibe is the major concern---and they let it lead the way. With more bite than a simple groove record, these major league jazzbos deliver a free and easy date that’s as friendly as a summer day with low humidity and just the right amount of heat. Tasty stuff that needs to happen more often. - Sounds of Timeless Jazz By Paula Edelstein - http://bit.ly/LugHQo 3 Brave Souls: John Beasley, Darryl Jones, Ndugu Chancler
Funky, soulful, interplay. These are just a few words that can be used to describe the meeting of John Beasley, Darryl Jones and Ndugu Chancler on their new BFM Jazz release titled 3 Brave Souls. These musical masters forge a symbiotic sonic bond reminiscent of their individual efforts with the incomparable Miles Davis bands while coining their own musical vocabulary on 11 new compositions that each band member contributed to the recording. In addition to Beasley, Jones and Chancler, the trio invited such respected musicians as vocalists Sy Smith and Dwight Trible, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, Steve Tavaglione on EWI, Leon Mobley on djembe, trombonist Francisco Torres, Gregoire Moret on harmonica and backing vocalist Monet Owens to share their musical expertise. The set opens with Chancler’s “Black Friday,” a funky, soul/jazz piece with classic jazz flavorings that rise to the top. The musical excellence continues with the John Beasley/Sy Smith collaboration called “Wanna Get Away?” This song also features the killer multi-octave vocals of Sy Smith taking charge of a funky, boo-ga-loo kind of groove that immediately catches your ear. Its sudden stops and quick shifts in rhythm coupled with the imaginative harmonization on the bridge make this song a winner. Next Sy Smith is paired with Dwight Trible on “Nothing Left To Say,” which she also co-wrote with John Beasley. “Ayala” is an exotic gem that really reveals Beasley’s compositional integrity. This song is one of the more beautiful songs on the recording and really stays with you long after the song is over. “Stay” featuring Darryl Jones on vocals and “N2U” which features Gregoire Maret, wrap up the program and will leave you wonderfully lost in the music the ensemble has made together. On 3 Brave Souls, it’s easy to get lost in the fire and funk, the soul and the jazz but you can easily follow the light that this music emanates. Check it out. Click on CD cover image to purchase.
Nothing But Bass http://bit.ly/Kzo9Ic Bassist Darryl Jones teamed up with keyboardist John Beasley and drummer Ndugu Chancler to form 3 Brave Souls, a trio informed by funk, roots, and jazz. In fact, each of the members are alumni of Miles Davis’s band and as such bring together incredible groove with intellectual playing. The group has released their self-titled debut album. Jones, whose career credits include work with The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, and Madonna among others, keeps the grooves tight throughout the 11-track collection. “Come and Gone” shows off his melodic ability as he leads the group through a soulful melody, while he steps up to the microphone on the song “Stay.”
Jazz Chill Corner- http://bit.ly/MndK2S Three generations of Miles Davis alumni having fun playing progressive roots music – keyboardist John Beasley, bassist Darryl Jones and master drummer Ndugu Chancler – join forces in a formidable new funk trio called 3 Brave Souls. Harnessing Beasley and Ndugu’s hometown earthy undertones of New Orleans and Jones’ Chicago street-funk 3 Brave Souls are knee-deep in the groove on their self-titled debut for BFM Jazz.
From the revved-up, rootsy Meters romp “Wanna Get Away” and the downhome “Nothing Left to Say,” both featuring the remarkably soulful vocals of Sy Smith, to the hard-hitting Fela Kuti like instrumental “Yabis,” 3 Brave Souls make a potent statement on this debut outing. The aptly titled “Nail it Down” is a thick pocket groover with spoken words of wisdom by Ndugu. The mellow ballad “Come and Gone” is a showcase for Jones’ melodic penchant on the bass while Beasley conjures a hypnotic world music vibe on the exotic “Ayala.” Guest harmonica ace Gregoire Maret is featured on the lovely and lyrical “N2U,” Daryl Jones showcases his vocal ability on “Stay” with a Sly Stone-ish sound; and Sy Smith returns for the gorgeous ballad “Love’s Graces,” which Beasley wrote.
John Beasley who is the consummate musician, composer, and music director has worked with Chaka Khan, James Brown, Steely Dan, Queen Latifah, Aretha Franklin, and is currently the MD for ABC-TV “Duets” (featuring judges John Legend, Robin Thicke, Jennifer Nettles and Kelly Clarkson). Beasley wrote infectious songs that leave your foot tapping. His jazz background includes eight years with Freddie Hubbard and an eye-opening year (1989) with Miles Davis. Beasley’s previous record, Positootly! was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award.
Bassist extraordinaire Darryl Jones is one half of the funky rhythm tandem in 3 Brave Souls. With his rock, jazz, blues experience playing with Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, and since 1993 touring with the Rolling Stones, groovemeister of the highest order, Jones’ credits include work with such pop stars as Cher, Madonna, Sting, Lionel Richie, Eric Clapton and Peter Gabriel.
The distinctive drums on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” could only be Leon “Ndugu” Chancler. With a list of studio recording credits as long as the Dead Sea Scrolls, inventive drummer and consummate timekeeper, Ndugu has recorded and toured with Santana, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, George Duke and Weather Report.
3 Brave Souls, Beasley, Ndugu, & Jones, came together to write listenable, danceable melodic music bringing the funk and plenty of downhome soul, with an undercurrent of jazz sensibility to move you to the dance floor!
3 Brave Souls - John Beasley / Daryl Jones / Ndugu Chancler - (BFM Jazz) 4.5 stars / 5 stars - Album Review by Peggy Oliver - http://bit.ly/LBrmCi
Occasionally, I ponder about what truly inspires bands or vocal groups in choosing their names and what their thought process was behind it. For instance, the name 3 Brave Souls sparked immense curiosity. After checking their musical background, I particularly noted that John Beasley, Daryl Jones and Leon ‘Ngudu’ Chancler had one major common bond. These veteran musicians represented three generations who played behind modern jazz trumpet pioneer Miles Davis. Considering those 3 Brave Souls’ close association with Davis was partially enough for me to figure out that Beasley, Jones and Chancler must have been somewhat brave in interacting with his moody, intense personality.. Besides their Miles Davis credentials, 3 Brave Souls have contributed to the music industry in other capacities. Keyboardist John Beasley serves as musical director for the current reality talent series, “Duets.” Jones, who handles bass guitar duties for The Rolling Stones tours, has also worked with pop phenomenons Sting, Madonna and Lionel Ritchie. Chancler is one of the most respected drummer/percussionists around but one of his major calling cards is his pulsating funk beats driving Michael Jackson’s international hit, “Billie Jean.” 3 Brave Souls bridges their diverse talents for their self-titled debut to concoct an ambitious and mostly entertaining recipe of pop, world, R&B and soul injected with funk blasts and contemporary jazz class. “Black Friday” sweetly layers deep funk pockets with R&B and pop. Chancler and Beasley’s vibraphone and keyboard tandem run the table on “Nail It Down.” From the department of genius vocal casting, independent soul songstress Sy Smith is the perfect choice who compliments 3 Brave Souls’ eclectic personality. Her sassy lead and Beasley’s meaty organ solo propel “Wanna Get Away,” a Meters-esque romp that proudly stamps the lively spirit of New Orleans. The sleek eighties R&B-like “Love’s Graces” taps Sy Smith’s efficiency with slow jams, accented by Beasley’s spacey synthesizers. While Jones is very capable holding down the rhythm section, “Come and Gone” demonstrates his melodic bass lines with simplicity and fluidity. On the other hand, one of the few misfires on 3 Brave Souls is Jones’ lead vocal turn on “Stay.” “Ayala” ventures into jazz experimentation centered on different distinct textures of woodwinds: the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) played by Steve Tavaglione and Bob Sheppard’s baritone sax. “Yabis” is a certified African funk party complete with animated trombone by Francisco Torres, and a fierce percussion line of Leon Mobley on djembe (a hand drum originating from West Africa) and Chancler’s congas. “N2U” closes down 3 Brave Souls with Gregorie Maret’s harmonica and Beasley’s glistening keys locking in a relaxing jazz/soul vibe. After experiencing this riveting debut, there absolutely is something about that name 3 Brave Souls that says slightly daring and dare I say – a brave and welcome move for the modern jazz market. I bet Miles Davis would be smiling on them as well. http://bit.ly/LBrmCi
The Birmingham Times - http://bit.ly/N6wnDj
Newly released on BFM Jazz is a dynamic collection titled 3 Brave Souls. This CD is a fantastic recording that is simply pure funk. Keyboardist John Beasley, Bassist Darryl Jones and percussionist Ndugu Chancler have produced a really remarkable album that is old school with a new school twist. It is fabulous. 3 Brave Souls possesses a truly unique sound. Incorporating the down to earth tones of New Orleans with the street funk of Chicago, it is a pleasing one of a kind collection. The set opens with “Black Friday”, a mid-tempo track that has a great vibe. “Come And Gone” is a mellow laid back tune. The defining elements in this selection are the string and keyboard instruments. Nothing but the soul is released on “Nail It Down.” It is one of the numerous danceable tracks; however, it features an added surprise – a modicum of spoken word by Ndugu Chancler.
One welcoming addition to this collective is the silky sounds of vocalist Sy Smith. She takes center stage on the track “Love Graces.” Likewise can be said about Gregoire Maret and his prowess over the harmonica and Darryl Jones’ vocals on the track “Stay.” He is awesome. Other featured guests are Dwight Trible, Bob Sheppard, Steve Tavaglione, Francisco Torres and Leon Mobley. Stated on John Beasley’s web site about 3 Brave Souls is: “Three generations of Miles Davis alumni having fun playing progressive roots music”— these so few words perfectly sum up the entire collection. John Beasley is a Grammy nominated musician, composer, arranger and music director who has worked with Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Chaka Khan and many others. Daryl Jones has worked with a number of artists including Cher, Madonna, Sting, Lionel Richie, Eric Clapton and Peter Gabriel. Leon Ndugu Chancler is the distinct drummer on Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Santana, Herbie Hancock and George Duke are among the list of musician he has worked with.
Billings Gazette - http://bit.ly/NyAawq
They call themselves “3 Brave Souls.” Maybe it’s because all three survived stints with Miles Davis. Maybe it’s because they dare revive the seismic grooves of ‘80s funk. Keyboardist John Beasley, bassist Darryl Jones and drummer Ndugu Chancler all spent time with Miles, although their all-star turns didn’t end there. Beasley also spent eight years with Freddie Hubbard and both Jones and Chancler played with Michael Jackson. On top of that, Jones has been touring with the Rolling Stones since 1993. But enough about their bona fides. The trio’s debut is good, old-fashioned funk channeled through New Orleans, with a cover of the Meters’ “Wanna Get Away” and the gospel-flavored original “Nothing Left to Say.” It’s in the latter song that the trio pulls its trump card, the amazing vocalist Sy Smith, whose liquid purr swoops over and under the best cuts here. She also lights up the jumping “Wanna Get Away?” and the swooning ballad, “Love’s Graces.” Chancler introduces “Nail it Down” with some smooth rap, in that groovy, pre-hip-hop sense of the word. And, the trio reaches for a world beat, adding conga and Kalimba to some cuts. There’s only one beef here, and it’s a tiny one. The trio sometimes piles the funk conventions on a little too thickly, laying the Rhodes over the Hammond B3, stacking up the grunts, the groans, the bass runaways and the spoken-word swoons. Cory Branan
Performance Links Positootly! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1h8LWQReiE Bedtime Voyage - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCEw_04Ikuc Queen Latifah - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj6VcS7gouU Steely Dan - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IocHM0n75DI James Brown Hollywood Bowl - Last Concert 2006 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHp-Zfl9Bas
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