Image: Scott Mitchell

JOHN BEASLEY

 PIANIST / COMPOSER / ARRANGER / MUSIC DIRECTOR / PRODUCER

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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

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GRAMMY® winner and nine-time nominee | Emmy nominee  | Latin Grammy nominee
Steinway artist

GRAMMY® Award Winner, nine-time nominee and Emmy nominee, John Beasley is an uncommonly versatile pianist. He began his career  backing 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 including Dianne Reeves, Ivan Lins, John Patitucci, Chaka Khan, Christian McBride, Carly Simon, Steely Dan, Lee Ritenour, and A.R. Rahman.

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 Let them all Talk.

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 plus albums later, Beasley is a Grammy award winner and has one Latin Grammy nomination. Six of his nine Grammy nominations are for his 3-album series called MONK’estra.

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. His Quintet is on screen on Bosch TV series, Season 7, Episode 1 performing an original song.

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, which also won the NCAAP Outstanding Jazz Vocal album award. He produced other global artists including Japanese singer Chie Ayado and Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry.

When Herbie Hancock championed UNESCO in 2011 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 Fête dans la Tête for its 2020 program. He wrote a commission for the LA Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles called A History of Jazz. Presently, he is working with both Frankfurt’s and Stuttgart’s radio big bands on programs featuring the music of Chick Corea, and Charlie Parker. He helped orchestrate and co-arrange Chucho Valdes The Creation suite, which is on a world tour.

SHORT BIO:
GRAMMY® Award Winning and Emmy nominee, John Beasley is a versatile pianist, composer, arranger who began his career in his 20s backing jazz icons Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. Since then, Beasley has performed with a wide range of artists, including Dianne Reeves, Ivan Lins, John Patitucci, Chaka Khan, Christian McBride, Carly Simon, to name a few. He was music director for international tours with Steely Dan, AR Rahman and Queen Latifah and co-MD for Chucho Valdes.

He is the Music Director for the International Jazz Day global gala concerts hosted by the Herbie Hancock Jazz Institute, which earned him an Emmy nomination for 2016 Jazz at the White House hosted by President Obama. Beasley’s 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 Let them all Talk.

As a recording artist Beasley has a dozen albums and has earned nine GRAMMY nominations. His recent project is MONK’estra a big-band which recorded 3 albums. The trilogy received six nominations and one win. He also earned a Latin Grammy nomination for an album he produced with Portuguese singer Maria Mendes with the Metropole Orchestra. His latest album is a Charlie Parker project “Bird Lives” which he co-conducts/arranges and produced for ACT Music with Stuttgart’s SWR Big Band.

Beasley also 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 Fête dans la Tête for its 2020 program. He wrote a commission for the LA Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles called A History of Jazz. Presently, he is working with both Frankfurt’s and Stuttgart’s radio big bands on programs featuring the music of Chick Corea, Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Weather Reporter, and Charlie Parker.