November 1, 2018

MSM Jazz Orchestra’s A Tribute to Quincy Jones on Nov. 2 and Nov. 5

Four questions with our guest arranger and conductor, John Beasely, the Grammy-nominated pianist, composer and arranger.

“Big band music is sonic… And, it’s Quincy’s music. The concert is going make you move and groove and smile and leave all the troubles of the world behind for 90 minutes.”

1) What are you looking forward to about this concert?

This year we mark Quincy Jones’ 85th birthday. I was a little younger than the MSM students when I first heard Quincy’s music, which changed my thinking, my dreams, and my writing and playing. I’m still in awe of his body of work. So, it’s a privilege to arrange Quincy’s music for MSM jazz orchestra to perform. We are going to have some fun on stage at Dizzy’s and Harlem Jazz Stage.

2) Tell us about the music on the program, and why Quincy Jones is so important

The program is 11 songs spanning 4 decades. I selected these particular songs to show Quincy’s body of work from Ella Fitzgerald, to Michael Jackson even a song to highlight his film composing.

Quincy’s music is really important because he was a trailblazer. He had an instinct for making music that sounds good. His music made you feel happy, had such beauty, you heard the dirty blues, down home funk, soul and be-bop and some catchy stories.

Guest Conductor and Arranger, John Beasley

3) How do you feel about working with the talented musicians at Manhattan School of Music?

This is the second time that Stefon Harris, MSM’s Associate Dean and Director of Jazz Arts has invited me as guest conductor with MSM’s Jazz Orchestra. I am grateful for his trust and confidence in me.

Last year, they played my MONK’estra arrangements of Thelonious Monk’s music to mark Monk’s centennial. The musicians are very talented and do their homework. I’m very optimistic about our next generation.

4) Why would you recommend people come and see the performances?

Big band music is sonic. There’s a joy to watching and listening to three horn sections blowing collectively and individually with a rhythm section driving the sound. And, it’s Quincy’s music. It’s going make you move and groove and smile and leave all the troubles of the world behind for 90 minutes. We all need an escape from the heavy news cycle of today.

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