John Beasley (musician)
|Birth name||John Daniel Beasley|
September 28, 1960 |
|Genres||Jazz, Blues, Soul, R&B, Funk, Afro-Cuban, Latin, Classical, Rock|
|Occupation(s)||Composer, Producer, Arranger, Pianist|
|Labels||Resonance, Windham Hill Jazz, EWE Japan|
|Associated acts||Queen Latifah, Wall-E, Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, Steely Dan|
John Beasley (born September 28, 1960) is an American composer, pianist, producer, and arranger who has recorded and performed with musicians such as Miles Davis, Steely Dan, Chaka Khan, James Brown, Spice Girls, Dianne Reeves, Ry Cooder, Chick Corea and Sérgio Mendes, Freddie Hubbard, John Patitucci, Queen Latifah, and Ivan Lins.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Beasley is third-generation musician who was raised in a house filled with music. His grandfather, Rule Oliver, played trombone in territory bands and was a junior high school band director for 50 years in Arkansas. His mother, Lida Beasley, is a brass instrumentalist, who for most of her career taught music at various public schools and colleges, along with being band director and conducting operas.
Growing up around musicians, Beasley learned how to play trumpet, oboe, drums, saxophone, and flute, mostly because of his mother's need for wind instrumentalists for her bands. His father, Rule Curtis Beasley (b. 1931), is a pianist and bassoonist, who played with the Fort Worth Symphony. Rule Beasley also was a professor of music composition at University of North Texas College of Music and at Santa Monica College, where he taught many musicians performing today.
Beasley created a drum set with garbage can lids and kitchen pots and pans when he was around two years old. His grandfather started bringing him drum parts, which he put together, and had a drum set from age four to high school. Beasley began piano lessons at the age of seven and stopped taking formal lessons when he started high school. In sixth grade, he had private lessons with a university oboe teacher that lasted three years. He taught himself to play the sax, flute, and trumpet and began playing for the John Adams Junior School and Santa Monica College orchestras that his mother led. He was also in the state choir but quit because he got bored.
Beasley started writing music in junior high school. After his father bought him a Bobby Timmons record, he wanted to play jazz. In Grade 7, he formed a jazz band with high school-aged friends. Always mesmerized by inner melodies and day-dreaming, on family camping trips he packed his score pad to compose and arrange.
As soon as he graduated from high school, he started 'gigging'; playing in bars when he was too young to get entry as a customer. Fearless about learning and performing, in just a few years he was touring around the U.S. and internationally with Sérgio Mendes and Freddie Hubbard.
At age 14, Beasley wrote a jazz piece for the University of North Texas Jazz Band. Jimmy Lyons, founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival, heard Beasley's piece and recommended him for a scholarship at the Stan Kenton summer jazz camp. The Stan Kenton Orchestra performed Beasley's composition at the camp, and then added it to its repertoire that year.
Declining an oboe scholarship from the Juilliard, Beasley went on to tour and record with Miles Davis, Steely Dan, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Baaba Maal, Queen Latifah, Christian McBride and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Chaka Khan, James Brown, and John Pattituci to name a few. Recognizing Beasley's talent for composing and arranging, major recording artists have added Beasley's original sound and music to their projects.
At 24, Beasley started writing music for Paramount, Disney, and MGMs television shows, including Cheers, Family Ties, Star Trek, and Fame. He also wrote the Touchstone TV logo, which is still used today. His first brush with Hollywood films was as a pianist playing on film scores for film luminaries such as Thomas Newman, Dave Grusin, Alan Silvestri, and Carmine Coppola in box office hits such as WALL-E", "Finding Nemo, Erin Brockovich, The Godfather Part III, A Bug's Life, and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. He composes pro bono for films and podcasts for Nobel Peace Prize-winning Doctors Without Borders. Along the way, Beasley has written award-winning commercials for ad agencies in the US and Germany for over 20 years. While touring with Miles Davis, Beasley was inspired to release his first of seven solo recordings.
Beasley, continues to juggle his studio work on hit reality/game shows such as American Idol, Pussycat Dolls Present:, America's Got Talent, and Singing Bee, along with touring as Musical Director for Queen Latifah, conducting workshops, playing on TV/Films, producing other artists, and writing new music.
His eighth album, Letter to Herbie, a tribute to 2008 Grammy-winner Herbie Hancock, featuring Christian McBride, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Roy Hargrove, was released in April 2008 and has already topped the Jazz Music Charts. In 2009, he released Positootly!, which went on to receive a Grammy nomination for best instrumental jazz album. In 2010 he appeared in a Web-TV simulcast.
In 2012, Beasley has formed a new band, 3 Brave Souls, with other Miles Davis alumni bassist Darryl Jones (with Davis for 1984′s Decoy and ’85′s You’re Under Arrest; and drummer Ndugu Chancler (who played with Davis in the early 1970s) that released their premier self-titled record on the BFM Digital record label. An early review of this old-style '70s funk, jazz and roots music describe the album as "tangy, ass-wiggling funk...a groove so deep you could fall right in". The pianist also acts as Music Director for the ABC hit TV show and singing competition, Duets.  He will return to the role of music director for a new ABC singing show "Sing Your Face Off" based off Endemol's "Your Face Sounds Familiar" airing in 2013.
In 2013, Beasley realized a long held dream, forming a 17-piece big band called MONK’estra. MONK’estra captures the spirit of Monk's unique quirkiness, offbeat accents, punchy dissonances, in fresh arrangements. Veteran jazz critic Don Heckman described Beasley’s big band and his talent as “extraordinary orchestrating abilities, imaginative soloing from players: a net result of some of the most mesmerizing big band music of recent memory.”
|1992||Cauldron||Windham Hill Records|
|1993||A Change of Heart||Windham Hill Records|
|1994||Mose the Fireman||Rabbit Ears|
|2005||One Live Night||Beasley Music|
|2008||Letter to Herbie||Resonance|
|2012||3 Brave Souls||BFM|
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- International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory, 10th edition, International Who's Who in Music, Cambridge, England (1984).
- Who's Who in American Music: Classical, R. R. Bowker, New York (1983)
- Who's Who in Entertainment, 2nd edition, 1992-1993, Marquis Who's Who, Wilmette, Illinois (1992).
- Who's Who in Entertainment, 3rd edition, 1998–1999, Marquis Who's Who, New Providence, New Jersey (1997).
- Who's Who in the West. 21st edition, 1987-1988, Marquis Who's Who, Wilmette, Illinois (1987).
- John Beasley (II) at IMDb.
- Larry Taylor, "John Beasley: Positootly! (2009)", All About Jazz.
- "John Beasley Jazz Circle Concert: Live Webcast", All About Jazz.