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John Beasley: Positootly! (2009)

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John Beasley: Positootly! How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

On Positootly!, pianist John Beasley explores a variety of styles for a thoroughly enjoyable and stimulating experience. Each track benefits immensely from the indelible touch of drumming great Jeff "Tain" Watts
Jeff
Jeff "Tain" Watts
b.1960
drums
, in alliance here with percussionist Munyungo Jackson.

Hailing from Louisiana, Beasley started playing in the late seventies, getting his seasoning with such jazz greats as Miles Davis

Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
1938 - 2008
trumpet
and Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
b.1956
vocalist
. Lately, he has gravitated towards composing for film and television, but he continues to release new music and tour with his band.

This recording follows-up Letter to Herbie (Resonance, 2008), in which Beasley presented an impressionistic take on Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
's music. Besides Watts and Jackson on drums, the musicians participating here are bassist James Genus
James Genus
James Genus
b.1966
bass
, along with the blistering front line of saxophonist Bennie Maupin
Bennie Maupin
Bennie Maupin
b.1940
clarinet
and trumpeter Brian Lynch
Brian Lynch
Brian Lynch
b.1956
trumpet
.

Most numbers are Beasley originals with three notable exceptions. The standout is a knockout rendition of, Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla

Astor Piazzolla
Astor Piazzolla
1921 - 1992
bandoneon
's tango "Tanguedia III." On most selections, Beasley plays piano, but here he uses Fender Rhodes and synthesizer to create bandoneon accordion effects essential to tango. It's uniquely tango-jazz all the way in 2/4 start-stop fashion, building to a dynamic climax

Other selections range from funk and soul to bop and bossa nova. Staying in a South American vein, Beasley puts forth his take on Antonio Carlos Jobim

Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
1927 - 1994
piano
's "Dindi." Genus' bass sets the tone for this soft reflective piece, with the piano delivering softly swaying interludes. Watts and Jackson, as expected, add complexity to the beat.

A further highlight is Beasley's "Black Thunder," dedicated to the late drummer Elvin Jones

Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
1927 - 2004
drums
, and featuring Watts as a positive dynamo with pounding sticks. Maupin and Lynch deliver stirring solos as well. On Beasley's vigorous "The Eight Winds," Lynch's muted trumpet effectively leads the pianist into a burning,double-time solo, again resolutely backed by the churning drum duo.

For hard boppers, there is Beasley's opener, "Caddo Bayou," featuring the whole band in this energized tribute to the leader's hometown. For soulful funk there is Bobby Timmons

Bobby Timmons
Bobby Timmons
1935 - 1974
piano
"So Tired," with Beasley again On Fender Rhodes, framing Maupin's strong tenor solo.

Since positivity is the theme of this CD, it is fitting that it ends with the piano solo piece "Hope, Arkansas," Beasley's stately ode to Obama's presidency.

Track Listing: Caddo Bayou; Positootly!; Dindi ; Black Thunder; Shatita Boom Boom; Tanguedia III; Elle; So Tired; Eight Winds; Hope...Arkansas.

Personnel: John Beasley: piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer; Bennie Maupin: tenor and soprano saxophones; Brian Lynch: trumpet; James Genus: bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums; Munyungo Jackson: percussion.

Record Label: Resonance Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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