Image: Scott Mitchell
PIANIST / COMPOSER / ARRANGER / MUSIC DIRECTOR / PRODUCER
Los Angeles Times
Double GRAMMY® winner and 11x-time nominee | Emmy nominee | Latin Grammy nominee
Double GRAMMY® Award Winner, 11x 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, Chucho Valdes, John Patitucci, Chaka Khan, Christian McBride, Carly Simon, Steely Dan, Lee Ritenour, Queen Latifah and A.R. Rahman, to name a few.
Film and TV Credits
His extensive work as a composer-arranger extends beyond jazz, with many credits in films scored by 15x Oscar nominee Thomas Newman Pixar’s Elemental (upcoming release), 1917, James Bond’s Spectre and Skyfall, Finding Dory, He Named Me Malala, and Let them all Talk. At the young age of 24, Beasley worked for Paramount, Disney and other studio composing for TV series, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Cheers, and Fame. Beasley also wrote a jazz piece for Director Damon Lindelof’s The Watchmen‘s winning Episode 6 The Extraordinary Being. Beasley’s quintet is on screen on Bosch TV series, Season 7, Episode 1 performing an original song.
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 double Grammy award winner and has one Latin Grammy nomination. Six of his 11 Grammy nominations and one award are for his trilogy project called MONK’estra.
As a producer, Beasley been recording with Germany’s SWR and HR Big Bands on several albums GRAMMY nominee Bird Lives, Secrets, Return to Forever and co-produced with Weather Report’s drummer Peter Erskine on his Dr.UM albums; and several projects for Dianne Reeves and Lee Ritenour.
His produced two acclaimed albums with Portuguese singer Maria Mendes and the Metropole Orkest: Colours of Me and Close to Me. Beasley and Mendes received a 2020 Latin Grammy and a 2021 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. That same year, Beasley 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.
Beasley has produced other global artists including Japanese singer Chie Ayado and Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry.
International Jazz Day – Global Gala Concerts – Music Director
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 concerts. Every year, Beasley directs 30+ global all stars in concerts that have been held in Paris, Havana, St Petersburg, Istanbul, Osaka, Melbourne, New Orleans, New York/Los Angeles 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.
Music Director Tours and TV Specials/Singing Competitions
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.
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, which was included in their first album released in 2022. He wrote a commission for Gustavo Dudamel-led LA Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles called A History of Jazz.
When the great Cuban pianist and composer Chucho Valdés wrote “La Creación,” a bold new work for big band, Afro-Cuban percussion, and vocals with elements of Santería ritual music, African music, blues, Chucho handpicked Beasley to be co-conductor/arranger/music director for the debut tour in 2021 that extended to 2022 at major festivals and stages in Europe and the U.S.
Presently, he is working with both Frankfurt’s and Stuttgart’s radio big bands on programs featuring the music of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and an original project on Steinway’s Spirio piano. He is also co-commissioned to write a piece for the Bielefeld Philharmonie, while still touring his in-demand MONK’estra and Charlie Parker’s Bird Lives projects.
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.
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 Maastricht conservatories in Holland.
MONK’estra performs in Thomas Newman’s score in Soderberg film Let Them All Talk which Beasley orchestrated, arranged and conducted.