On December 12th – 13th I was lucky to visit John Beasley’s workshop in Jam Lab. John was supposed to talk on re-imagining of Monk’s compositions and revealing the roots of his music. There were lots of discussions on these topics lately so I mostly expected to expand my knowledge on Monk’s music rather than on jazz in general. But these expectations were wrong.
Firstly, as a kid of nowadays I got really excited when John played his MONK’estra’s hip-hop version of “ ‘Round Midnight”. It is a well-known truth that hip-hop has taken a lot from jazz but I’ve never heard Monk in hip-hop.
Secondly, I was really impressed with John’s way of conducting the band. The band consisted of Jam Lab’s students, which were great musicians on my mind. The idea was that the band plays a tune they’ve prepared before, then they play it once again with some remarks given by John. His remarks were very brief but meaningful. Musicians played the same tune differently. And when John told musicians his fatal phrase: “I want to hear you guys suck” it worked the other way round. The band got absolutely relaxed and according to my personal feelings here was where the real jazz began.
Finally, John Beasley seemed to me jazz himself. He was very laid back and creative, calm but convincing, inspiring and not too confusing.
I definitely recommend to all of you to get acquainted with his music.