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Take Five With Mike Beasley

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Meet Mike Beasley: I started playing the piano at a early age taking a couple of years' lessons but got bored with classical music. I drop reading scores and spent most of my time picking tunes on the piano. I started a band around 18, and played in a number of funk and rock bands. I now perform music for plays, exhibitions, and demos for electronic instruments (XLN Audio). I play in three different bands (la petite machine) and have started singing.

Instrument(s): Electric pianos and synths.

Teachers and/or influences? I love funk and jazz mostly. I would love to start playing the bass, I try to emulate the sound and lines on keyboards. Check it out on the site.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... Something happened when I started on the piano or singing, and I got a lot a positive feedback when I started posting my music on the net.

Your sound and approach to music: Music is one of the numerous ways of sharing emotions. I don't enjoy technical demonstrations, I like music that grooves, and reaches my heart, and that requires a lot of talent. Jazz can be very elitist at times, a way of being part of the happy few who know and understand, and that's not my cup of tea.

Music is sharing what and who we are deep down, not showing off our skills, that happens much too often in "bad" jazz. Getting rid of all the unnecessary notes and ornaments, simplifying and let air and silence and space in the music, that's what I head for. I like music to be direct, straight forward and sincere, that applies to people I like to play music with. Music is the art of sharing emotions.

Your dream band: My ideal band would be composed of musicians who are great listeners and serve the music before their ego, I try hard to avoid this booby trap. I would love to play with a great funk/jazz bassist and drummer such as Paco Sery. I would also love to sing in a jazz/funk band with the energy of bands like Tower of Power, the beauty of Bill Evans' musical arrangements, and Miles Davis' genius for saying so much with so few notes. I would also love to be percussionist in a Latino band—it'll happen one day.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: What started me off as a singer was a improvised jam session in a French restaurant in Paris, friends started playing a blues on guitar. I was probably a little merry and started larking about singing the blues, the people in the restaurant stopped eating and I got the very first round of applause in my life. Friends keep telling me I have a voice. I know what you are thinking...that's what friends are for. I still can't figure out why. The restaurant manager wanted me to come every weekend, but I don't even know the lyrics of a single song all through. So this was a great experience, and still very strange to me. You can check out the singing for yourself here.

Favorite venue: I should be playing soon in Paris with la petite machine; you can watch on YouTube.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959). It is still one of my favorites.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I'm not that good, I merely fiddle with the concept of jazz.

Did you know... I'm half French and half British, but I can't stand singing in French, even though it is my mother tongue and I'm French, not British. Sort that one out Sigmund Freud.

CDs you are listening to now: Miles and especially Bill Evans' arrangements on Kind of Blue.

Desert Island picks: Gabriela Montero, Bach and Beyond;

Messiaen, the 18-disc pack;

Bill Evans;

Herbie Hancock;

Chet Baker.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Concentrate on emotions and sharing with non-musicians. They are the ones who buy the records and listen with their hearts.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: A cabinet maker or a writer. check out the singing for yourself here.

Favorite venue: Should be playing soon in Paris with " la petite machine" you can watch on youtube.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Kind of Blue. It is still one of my favorites, with the pianist Zool Fletcher.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? naaaaaaaaa, I'm not that good, I merely fiddle with the concept of jazz.

Did you know... I'm half French and half British, but I can't stand singing in French although it is my mother tongue and that I am French, not British, sort that one out Sigmund.

CDs you are listening to now: Miles and especially Bill Evan's arrangements in Kind of Blue (Colombia).

Desert Island picks: Gabriela Montero - Bach and Beyond Messiaen, the 18 record pack. Bill Evans, Herby Hancock, Chet Baker.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Concentrate on emotions and sharing with non musicians, they are the ones who buy the records and lsiten with their hearts.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: I cabinet maker or a writer.


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