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John Beasley

Grammy-winning and Emmy-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.

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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

JOHN BEASLEY *********************************************************** John Beasley, GRAMMY® winning and Emmy Award-nominated pianist, composer, arranger, producer, music director

An uncommonly versatile pianist, he has backed such jazz icons as Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard – playing in the bands of both these trumpet greats while still in his 20s. Since then, Beasley has performed with a wide range of artists from Dianne Reeves, Ivan Lins, John Patitucci, Chaka Khan, Christian McBride, Carly Simon, Steely Dan, Lee Ritenour, A.R. Rahman, and James Brown’s last concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

His extensive work as a composer-arranger extends beyond jazz, with many credits in television such as Star Trek:TNG, Cheers, and Fame; and in films scored by 15-time Oscar nominee Thomas Newman 1917, James Bond’s Spectre and Skyfall, Finding Dory, He Named Me Malala, Shawshank Redemption, and the upcoming Steven Soderberg film Let them all Talk with Meryl Streep (HBO Max).

While on tour with Miles Davis, Beasley was inspired to record his first album Cauldron, which was produced by Steely Dan’s Walter Becker. A dozen albums later, Beasley has earned nine GRAMMY nominations, one Latin GRAMMY. Six of these nominations are for his 3-album series called MONK’estra, with a win for in Arrangement for “Donna Lee.”

MONK’estra is a smashing big band that captures the spirit of Thelonious Monk’s singular music in fresh arrangements flavored with contemporary sounds that range from Afro-Cuban rhythms to hip-hop. Downbeat and Jazz Journal UK have given the albums 5 stars with one critic saying it is “some of the most mesmerizing big band music of recent memory.” His third in the 3-series of album MONK’estra plays John Beasley showcases Beasley’s compositions and more unique arrangements of Monk, Ellington, and Bird songs. MONK’estra performs in 15-time Oscar nominated film composer Thomas Newman’s score in Soderberg film Let Them All Talk which Beasley orchestrated, arranged and conducted. Beasley also wrote a jazz piece for Director Damon Lindelof's The Watchmen's winning episode 6 The Extraordinary Being.

Beasley took his MONK’estra charts to various schools and rehearsed and conducted student big bands in the US and Europe, including Rutgers, Frost, Julliard, Manhattan School of Music, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Maastrich conservatories in Holland.

As a producer, Beasley worked on Weather Report's drummer Peter Erskine on his recent albums and several for Lee Ritenour, including producing projects for Dianne Reeves. His most recent production was with Portuguese singer Maria Mendes and the Metropole Orkest on her album Close to Me, which earned Beasley and Mendes a 2020 Latin and a 2021 American GRAMMY nomination for Best Arrangement, along with the Dutch Edison prize for Best Jazz Vocal album. Beasley not only produced the album but was arranger, conductor, orchestrator, and played piano. He also earned a 2021 GRAMMY nomination for conducting and arranging vocalist Somi’s new album Holy Room. He produced other global artists including Japanese singer Chie Ayado, Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry.

When Herbie Hancock championed UNESCO in 2012 to appoint a day to celebrate jazz every year, Beasley was hand-selected as the Music Director for the Herbie Hancock Jazz Institute (formerly the Thelonious Monk Institute), which produces the global gala concert. He has since directed 30+ global all stars in concerts that have been held in Paris, Havana, St Petersburg, Istanbul, Osaka, Melbourne, New Orleans, and the notable 2016 gala at the White House, hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The ABC broadcast earned Beasley an Emmy nomination.

Beasley first experience as a music director (MD) was with Sergio Mendes at the start of his career in his 20s. Since then, he has directed tours for Queen Latifah, Steely Dan (Art Crimes), A.R. Rahman (Jai Ho), along with tribute concerts for Kenny Burrell, Billy Higgins, and for the Monk Institute’s competition gala tributes to Quincy Jones, Bill Clinton, Aretha Franklin, Terrence Blanchard, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Wayne Shorter. He worked as MD for TV specials/series, including Sports Illustrated 50 Years of Beautiful and musical competitions Duets with John Legend, and Sing Your Face Off. Beasley was Lead Arranger for ten years on the American Idol show with his first year as Associate MD ushering Carrie Underwood's victory.

Recently, Beasley has been working with youth and professional big bands. He was commissioned by Carnegie Hall's National Youth Orchestra to write a song for its 2020 program. He wrote another a commission for the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles called A History of Jazz. Presently, he is working with both Frankfurt's and Stuttgart's Big Bands on programs featuring the music of Chick Corea, Duke Elllington, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker.

Highlights: Music Director • International Jazz Day concerts: hosted by Herbie Hancock (White House 2016 Emmy- nominated, Paris, Istanbul, Osaka, Havana, St Petersburg, New Orleans, Melbourne • Playboy Jazz Festival 2019: Ivan Lins Big Band (conductor and arranger) • Playboy Jazz Festival 2015: Celebrating George Duke! with Al Jarreau, Stanley Clarke, Greg Phillinganes, Bryon Miller, and others • Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Illustrated 50 Years of Beautiful (2014, NBC) • Los Angeles Philharmonic Jazz and the Orchestra 5-concert series (2012+2014) • Thelonious Monk Institute Competition Galas: Tribute to Aretha Franklin, Bill Clinton, George Duke, Quincy Jones • 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: Associate Producer: 2005 – Carrie Underwood’s victory and as Lead Arranger 2006-2014

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 Patitucci, and Steve Taviglione.


TV 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.

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. Until the final show (2005-2016) Beasley continued as Lead Arranger and occasionally 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 returned to ABC in a new show “Sing Your Face Off” 2013.

Film 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 1917, James Bond Spectre + Skyfall, Exotic Marigold Hotel, Finding Dory + Nemo, and Wall-E, James Brown “Get on up”, He Named Me Malala, Shawshank Redemption, to name a few. Beasley and Newman worked together on an all-jazz score for Steven Soderberg's film “Let them All Talk” with Meryl Streep. Beasley orchestrated and arranged Newman's score and conducted his big band MONK'estra and a string section.

Commercials Beasley has written award winning commercials for ad agencies in the US and Germany for over 20 years. He has composed pro bono music for films and podcasts for Nobel Peace Prize winning Doctors Without Borders.

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 Jackson's Billie Jean, Ndugu Chancler. This triumvirate wrote, as one reviewer said, some “tangy, ass-wiggling funk.”

Music Director, Jazz Concerts 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 at the White House - 2016 which was televised on ABC TV and earned a 2016 Emmy nomination.

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. Beasley introduced his jazz quintet which played alongside the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. The next season, Beasley brought his big band MONK'estra to play alongside LA Phil's Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. LA Phil commissioned Beasley to write a new piece for the performance, which he called “History of Jazz”.

The LA Phil brought Beasley back on stage to direct a special concert “Celebrating George Duke! for the Playboy Jazz Festival at the famed Hollywood Bowl, featuring Al Jarreau, Stanley Clarke, Ndugu Chancler, Paul Jackson Jr, Byron Miller, Greg Phillinganes, and others.

Beasley has toured with A-list jazz artists, including Stanley Clarke, Dianne Reeves, John Patittucci, Christian McBride, Lee Ritenour, Kenny Garrett, to name a few.

MONK'estra MONK’estra began as a big band but also takes the same of smaller ensembles from septet to trio, which has performed on more than 60 concerts nights around the world including U.S., Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and the Middle East since 2013.

The feel and sound of MONK’estra captures the spirit of Thelonious Monk’s singular style with its off-beat melodies, humor, strange beauty and unbounded swing in fresh arrangements flavored with hints of New Orleans, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban, contemporary and atmospheric rhythms and colors.

MONK'estra Albums - Mack Avenue Recors There are three albums: MONK’estra Vol 1 (2016), MONK’estra Vol. 2 (2017), MONK’estra Plays John Beasley (2020) The trilogy has earned six GRAMMY nominations and won one for “Donna Lee” Best Large Jazz Ensemble (3x) + Best Arrangements for Donna Lee, Pannonica/Ugly Beauty + Ask Me Now Guest artists on albums: Dianne Reeves, Hubert Laws, Kamasi Washington, Joey DiFrancesco, John Patitucci, Gary Burton, Vinnie Colauito, Jubiliant Sykes, Regina Carter, Pedrito Martinez, Conrad Herwig, Gregoire Maret

Producer: Peter Erskine, Dr.Um “Lost Pages”, “Second Opinion” “On Call” Maria Mendes “Close to Me” - 2020 Latin GRAMMY nomination, 2021 GRAMMY nomination for Best Arrangement, and the Dutch Edison Prize for Best Jazz Vocal album. Other albums: Japanese singer Chie Ayado, Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry, Lee Ritenour.

Composer: Commission: “Fête de la Tête” for Carnegie Hall National Youth Orchestra led by Sean Jones Commission: “History of Jazz” for LA Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Los Angeles Commission: “Letter to FLOTUS” for Michelle Obama - TV broadcast of 2016 International Jazz Day for ABC TV. Competition winner: “Simplexity” for Spheres of Genius Symphonic Composition - JAM LAB

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 40-year career.

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