The Broad Stage Presents John Beasley's Big Band MONK'estra

The Broad Stage Presents John Beasley's Big Band MONK'estra

The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica presents pianist/composer/arranger John Beasley who will bring the smashing, four-time GRAMMY®-nominated big-band MONK'estra to The Broad Stage for the first time on Friday, October 12. Capturing the spirit of Thelonious Monk's singular music in fresh arrangements flavored with contemporary sounds that critics have called "some of the most mesmerizing big-band music of recent memory."

John Beasley has built upon Monk's foundational legacy to create one of the most innovative bodies of music celebrating the legendary pianist-composer Thelonious Sphere Monk. Beasley's arrangements are refreshingly 21st-century in sound. They incorporate hip-hop and bossa nova, Afro-Cuban jazz and funk, fusion and free jazz, without ever losing the essence of Monk's genius. And in Beasley's intricate writing for the reeds, and his dramatic brass parts, Beasley takes us from the swamps of his own native Louisiana to the sleek towers of Monk's adopted hometown, New York. Monk's songs inhabited a fantastic world of their own, spawning unique forms and colors, stories and pictures, and rewriting the rulebook as they took shape. They deserve nothing less than a similar explosion of invention and novelty when re-conceived for the orchestral idiom.

"I think musicians are still catching up with what Monk was telling us," says Beasley. "I've discovered how pliable his music is, like any great composer - for example, Bach, who sounds great in any tempo. Monk's music is so open to interpretation because his compositions have such a solid story. I figured out how to elongate his sophisticated melodies and voice things in a non-traditional way. And through it all, those unforgettable melodies just stick with you. Especially when played by Monk himself - as in this inventive evening of cross-discipline experimentation."

In an interview with All About Jazz, Beasley elaborates on his connection to Monk, "When I was around 11 years old, my dad put on this Monk album called Work. I remember listening and laughing because his songs were catchy, whimsical, and mischievous. His music didn't sound like what his peers were playing. He was an outlier. He faced a lot of criticism for his unique improvisational style, his singular musical vision, his crunchy dissonances, open spaces, intervallic jump, off- kilter rhythms, and disjunctive succession of phrases, but he wasn't looking for approval from anyone, not musicians, not the public, not critics. That's takes audacity. One hundred years and one year later (October 10, 2018), Monk, like a lot of geniuses, he is more understood, appreciated, and celebrated."

John Beasley has played piano/keyboards for Miles Davis, Dianne Reeves Freddie Hubbard and one night with James Brown. Jazz Times calls Beasley, "an amazing pianist, imaginative composer, creative improviser and arranger." JazzWeekly adds, "Thelonious Monk is probably dancing in heaven if he can hear the big band interpretations that keyboardist John Beasley is putting to his compositions."

Tickets are available by calling 310.434.3200 or visiting www.TheBroadStage.org.

Photo by Eric Wolfinger

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