A four-time GRAMMY-nominated 15-piece big band led by multi-GRAMMY®- and Emmy-nominated recording artist John Beasley, which has performed at nearly 60 cities around the world so far.
MONK’estra Big Band
Monk+MONK’estra, Cinematic Concert
‘’John Beasley’s bold refashionings of Thelonious Monk once again hit the jackpot. Beasley’s not just breathing new life into Monk’s repertoire – he’s firing up the big band scene.”
–BBC Music Magazine
“Beasley takes Monk’s sturdy tunes on a joyride for MONK’estra.”
“Beasley’s Monk’estra set was a dazzling display of fresh interpretations scaled to take full advantage of his sixteen-piece ensemble. The enlightening set closed with vigorous applause from the house.”
The Story: MONK’estra Big Band
John Beasley formed a smashing 15-piece big band in 2013 and called it MONK’estra. The music from the first two MONK’estra albums focused on Thelonious Monk’s music reimagined by Beasley for 21stCentury listeners.
After the 3rdconcert in Los Angeles, long-time jazz critic Don Heckman described his concert experience as “Some of the most mesmerizing big band music of recent memory.” Mack Avenue Records signed John Beasley’s MONK’estra for a 3-record deal. MONK’estra Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 earned four GRAMMY nominations in 2016 and 2017.
The next album MONK’estra plays John Beasleywill mainly feature Beasley’s original compositions. Guest artists include John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, Joey DeFrancesco, Hubert Laws, Grégoire Maret, and introducing pre-eminent opera singer Jubilant Sykes singing in gospel style Come Sunday. MONK’estra #3 will be released in October 2020.
Beasley’s MONK’estra band has performed in over 70+ concerts around the world, including the Hollywood Bowl, SFJAZZ, Dizzy’s Ronnie Scotts, Blue Note Tokyo, and jazz festivals in Monterey, Berlin, Detroit, Rotterdam’s North Sea, Chicago, Romania, and Sweden to name a few.
MONK’estra has become the on-call big band for various projects, including the film score for an upcoming Steven Soderbergh’s movie Let them All Talk with Meryl Streep. It was also invited to play at the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute’s Competition Gala Concert at the Dolby Theatre; the 2019 Ivan Lins Journey to Brazil concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and a Tribute concert to Kenny Burrell at the Ford Ampitheatre.
For Charlie Parker’s Centennial project Bird Lives @ 100which is being produced, conducted, and arranged by John Beasley and Magnus Lindgren MONK’estra will join the Hollywood Bowl stage and perform with a string section to celebrate Parker’s genius.
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.
“Some of the most mesmerizing big band music of recent memory.”
GLOBAL CONCERT TOURS:
Upcoming: Mondavi/UC Davis (CA), African Skye festival (Cape Town), Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society (CA), UAE Tour: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, RAK), Bohusulan Big Band tour, Sweden
Past Venues and Festivals:
New York: Jazz Standard (2016, 2017), Dizzy’s/Lincoln Center (2018), Birdland (2019), Festival: Kingsborough (NY)
Los Angeles: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Broad Center, SOKA, Blue Whale, Vitello’s, Jazz Bakery: Musicians Institute + New Roads, California Jazz Society, LACMA Summer Series, and Festivals: Playboy Hollywood Bowl, Angel City + Central Avenue
Other US Cities: SFJazz (2013, 2015, 2017 – San Francisco), San Diego Symphony Summer Series, Chicago Symphony Halls, Smith Center (Las Vegas), Carmel Music Ctr + Purdue University (Indiana), Jefferson Center (Roanoke), and Festivals: Monterey, Detroit, Portland
Europe: Ronnie Scotts (London 2017+2018), and Festivals: North Sea (Rotterdam), Berlin, TM Festival (Romania) Siexal (Lisbon)
Asia/New Zealand: Blue Note (Tokyo + Beijing), Cotton Club (Tokyo), Festivals: Java Jazz Festival, Pyeong Chang (Seoul), Wellington International Jazz Festival (New Zealand)
Conducting big bands:
Moscow Big Band (Triumph Jazz Festival: Moscow/St Petersburg); HR Big Band (Frankfurt, Konservatorium), Brussels Jazz Orchestra: Bozar, de Singel, Jazz in ‘t Park (Belgium), Stockholm’s Blue House Big Band, Knoxville Jazz Orchestra
Big Band Accompaniment:
*Tribute to Quincy Jones, Monk Institute Gala (Kodak)
*Tribute to Kenny Burrell featuring Lee Ritenour, Kamasi Washington, Gretchen Parlato (Ford Theatres)
*Palm Springs Festival with Rene Marie and Tierney Sutton (Annenberg)
New York: Julliard, Rutgers, Manhattan School of Music
Florida: U of South Florida, University of Miami, Frost School of Music
Other: U of North Texas, Cal State LA
Europe: CoDArts (Rotterdam) Conservatory, Maastricht Conservatory (Netherlands), JAM Music Lab (Vienna)
Special Feature: Jazz and the Orchestra (Walt Disney Hall, LA), Jazz Education Network Conference (San Diego), National Youth Orchestra with Sean Jones, Carnegie Hall
MACK AVENUE RECORDS:
MONK’estra plays John Beasley (October 2020 release)
MONK’estra Vol. 2: two GRAMMY nominations (2018) Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Arrangement for “Ugly Beauty/Pannomica”.
MONK’estra Vol. 1: two-GRAMMY nominations (2017) Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Arrangement for “Ask Me Now”.
MONK’estra re-imagines Monk’s compositions with an eye to the future with a killer contemporary big band that pays loving tribute to the master’s music while infusing it with contemporary harmonies, unstoppable grooves, and a contagious sense of fun.
BAND MEMBERS _ MONKestra
Collective of Musicians from East Coast, West Coast and Europe
TRUMPET: Bijon Watson, Brian Lynch, Brian Swartz, Dontae Winslow, Rashawn Ross, Scott Wendholt, Shawn Edmonds, Jamie Hovorka, Brandyn Phillips, Till Broner, Sean Jones
TROMBONE: Frank Lacy, Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre, Ryan Dragon, Lemar Guillary, Francisco Torres, Wendell Kelly, Steve Hughes, James Burton, Ed Neumeister
WOODWINDS: Bob Sheppard, Greg Tardy, Tom Luer, Tommy Peterson, Dave Reikenberg, Adam Kolker, Oliver Santana, Steve Wilson, Danny Janklow, Erena Terakubo, Magnus Lindgren, Joris Roelofs
BASS: Benjamin J. Shepherd, Ben Williams, James Genus, Rickey Minor, Reggie Hamilton, Felipe Cabrera
DRUMS: Terreon Gully, Peter Erskine, Gene Coye, Kendrick Scott, Gary Novak, Tony Austin,
GUEST ARTISTS: Dianne Reeves, Gary Burton, Regina Carter, Gregoire Maret, Kamasi Washington, Pedrito Martinez, Conrad Herwig, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Joey DeFrancisco, Vinnie Colauita, John Patitucci, Hubert Laws