A six-time GRAMMY-nominated 15-piece big band, septet or trio led by 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.”
2020 Covid Postponed: California: Mondavi/UC Davis, SFJAZZ, Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, African Skye festival (Cape Town), Hanifl Performing Center (Minnesota), Sweden tour
New York Jazz Standard (2016+2017), Dizzy’s/Lincoln Center (2018), Birdland (2019), Festivals: Kingsborough
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. Festivals: Playboy Jazz @Hollywood Bowl, Angel City + Central Avenue
o/ US cities SFJAZZ (2013, 2015, 2017 – San Francisco), San Diego Symphony Summer Series, Chicago
Symphony Hall, Smith Center (Las Vegas), Carmel Music Ctr + Purdue University (Indiana), Jefferson Center (Roanoke) and Festivals: Monterey, Detroit, Portland
Europe/ Ronnie Scotts (London 2017, 2018), NYUAD (Abu Dhabi), Aga Khan Ctr (Dubai)
Middle East Festivals: North Sea (Rotterdam), Berlin, Jazz TM (Romania), Siexal (Lisbon)
Asia/NZ Blue Note (Tokyo + Beijing 2017), Cotton Club (Tokyo 2019), Festivals: Java Jazz Fest, Pyeong
Chang (Seoul), Wellington Jazz Festival
Conducting Global Big Bands
Moscow Big Band (Triumph Jazz Festival: Moscow+St Petersburg); Frankfurt’s HR Big Bandm, Brussels Jazz Orchestra @Bozar, deSingel, Jazz in ‘t Park (Belgium), Stockholm’s Blue House Big Band, Knoxville Jazz Orchestra
Big Band Accompaniment + Film and TV Projects
· Steven Soderberg “Let Them All Talk” with Meryl Streep HBO Dec 2020 – MONK’estra big band recorded the score that was orchestrated/arranged/conducted by John Beasley and music composed by Thomas Newman
· Bosch TV series March 2021: MONK’estra quintet performs on screen
· Tribute to Kenny Burrell featuring Lee Ritenour, Kamasi Washington, Gretchen Parlato (Ford Theatres)
· Tribute to Quincy Jones, Monk Institute Gala (Kodak Theatre)
· Palm Springs Festival with Rene Marie and Tierney Sutton (Annenberg Museum)
Schools and Youth Concerts:
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: Netherlands: CoDArts (Rotterdam) and Maastricht conservatories, JAM Music Lab (Vienna)
Featured: Jazz and the Orchestra (Walt Disney Hall LA), Jazz Education Network conferences (San Diego +
Kentucky) and Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra with Sean Jones
MACK AVENUE RECORDS:
MONK’estra plays John Beasley: two GRAMMY nominations (2021) Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Arrangement for “Donna Lee”.
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, Ulysses Owens, Jr, 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, Joey DeFrancesco, Jubilant Sykes, Ralph Moore