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Monk'Estra Plays John Beasley

Monk'Estra Plays John Beasley

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Keeping in line with its namesake’s unpredictable nature, the MONK’estra veers off in new directions on its stunning third album, MONK’estra Plays John Beasley, due out August 21, 2020 via Mack Avenue Records. As the title implies, this time out the band shifts focus to its fearless leader’s own estimable compositions and piano playing, alongside a quartet of Monk classics and a tune apiece by Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. MONK’estra Plays John Beasley brings the keyboardist full circle in more ways than one. While the two preceding albums focused more on Beasley’s arranging talent, he’s featured playing the piano on every track. Additionally, besides casting the lens of his brilliant ensemble on his own music for the first time, the album also reunites Beasley with several now-formidable artists with whom he performed with in his formative years nearly three decades ago.


It is within the compositions heard here, penned by John Beasley, that you hear just how much he is invested in the music of Thelonious Monk. Or perhaps just how much Monk has marinated Beasley's musical toolbox. They all sound as if they could have been written by Monk as his improvisational style and melodic turns are appropriately in place. k.

Long known in the industry as a premier arranger, Beasley is second to no one when it comes to writing charts. As mentioned earlier, Beasley album pushes the envelope further. That is accomplished in a big way with charts and arrangements that are brilliantly conceived and executed. A modern jazz feel encompasses what at its core is still very much Monk inspired music. If you perceive jazz in colors, then get set for a full kaleidoscope.

You are treated to fourteen songs on the album, all of which have a unique character and are performed with impeccable precision.

Beasley assembled a large group of top shelf musicians, and knew precisely what to do with them. His writing and arrangement skills are beyond reproach. All the pieces fit snugly inside his artistically creative musical puzzle. He pays homage to Monk in grand style. Despite several nominations over the past years, Beasley has not yet been awarded a Grammy. With this monumental effort, the time has come for the genre's preeminent chart master.

-- (Jim Worsley)

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Mack Avenue Records
    • UPC/Barcode: 673203117228
    • Item Number: MAC1172