Born in Louisiana, Beasley started writing arrangements in junior high school, which sparked the attention of Jimmy Lyons—the founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival—who recommended him for a scholarship at the Stan Kenton summer jazz camp. The pianist cut his teeth with Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard in the 1980s and has since performed and recorded with a who’s who of artists including, Steely Dan, Dianne Reeves, Chaka Khan, Christian McBride, Sergio Mendes, Herbie Hancock, John Patittucci, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Queen Latifah and AR Rahman, among others.
Living in Hollywood, Beasley juggled a touring musician’s schedule while working in studios composing for award-winning television sitcoms including Fame, Cheers, Family Ties, Star Trek, to name a few. He has worked with multiple Oscar-nominated film composer Thomas Newman for three decades on credits including James Bond Spectre and Skyfall, Get On Up: James Brown, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel I & II, Finding Nemo & Finding Dory, Wall-E, Shawshank Redemption and more. In the era of reality singing shows, Beasley was Lead Arranger for the juggernaut American Idol and helped usher in Carrie Underwood to victory in 2005 as Associate Musical Producer. He directed several TV shows, including Duets, Sing Your Face Off, and Sports Illustrated, 50th Anniversary.
While touring with Miles Davis, Beasley was inspired to make his first of eleven recordings, Cauldron—which was produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan-and went on to earn a GRAMMY® Award-nomination for his 2011 release Positootly!.
He has since served as musical director for the Thelonious Monk Institute’s gala concerts since 2011, guiding legends and the next generation of jazz greats through all-star tributes to Quincy Jones, Bill Clinton, George Duke and Aretha Franklin. Also, since UNESCO’s inauguration of International Jazz Day in 2012, Beasley has directed each global annual concert from Paris, Istanbul, Osaka, Cuba to the notable concert at the White House in 2016 hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Beasley seamlessly shaped the televised Jazz at the White House concert featuring Aretha Franklin, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Joey Alexander and Sting through a night of swing and celebration. This earned him an Emmy nomination.
Beasley continues to be a chameleon putting on many hats as the calls come in. He co-produced two albums with Weather Report’s Peter Erskine, the first, Dr.Um, earned a 2017 GRAMMY® nomination. For two seasons, he directed the Toyota Symphonies for Youth: “Jazz and the Orchestra” for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Soul, blues and gospel singer Ruthie Foster engaged John to arrange songs for her performance with the Latvian Radio Big Band, which he conducted last month. For Thelonious Monk’s centennial celebration in Los Angeles, Angel City Jazz has appointed Beasley as Artistic Director. He has programmed an Afro-Cuban band to feature a classic recording Carmen Sings Monk with Dee Dee Bridgewater. The second set will feature DJs reimagining Beasley’s MONK’estra Vol. 1 imaginations of Thelonious Monk’s genius compositions.
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08/24/17 John Beasely – Grammy Nominated MONK’estra Conductor/Arranger