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Darryl Munyungo Jackson
Production Credits / Liner Notes:
Composer: John Beasley
Produced by Walter Becker
Executive Producer: Sam Sutherland
John Beasley, Cauldron (Windham Hill)
In spite of its title's connotations, keyboardist John Beasley's latest release, Cauldron Windham Hill Jazz) , is neither an evocation of Walpurgisnacht nor the soundtrack for a journey into the heart of darkness. Rather, its lively exoticisms could provide the sonic backdrop for a sunny holiday in the Caribbean. Beasley's early love for the drums is apparent in the consistently interesting rhythms, as is his Louisiana upbringing in "Zulu King," which appears to serve up warped melodic fragments from Professor Longhair's "Mardi Gras in New Orleans." Beasley recently did a stint with Miles Davis, and producer Walter Becker (of Steely Dan fame) gives numbers like "Cado Bayou" and the title track a Tut-like mysteriousness.
LOS ANGELES TIMES
CD JAZZ PICK OF THE WEEK
By Bill Kohlhasse
It's about time John Beasley got a chance to put out a major-label album. He's worked the local club scene in a variety of sometimes strangely-named groups, but has also toiled on the road for Sergio Mendes and, for six years, Freddie Hubbard. His biggest claim to fame is his 1989 tour with Miles Davis' band. Many of the tunes on Cauldron (Windham Hill Jazz) were written during that period, and the disc has some of that same electric moodiness that Miles was mining at the time. Despite the persistent rhythms of many of the tunes, this is not the usual 4/4 fusion date. Instead, Beasley, who wrote all the music, ranges across a wide array of moods and rhythmic styles. The bubbling title track works a dark, minor-key edge, while "Cado Bayou" is a bouncy bit of funk with the kind of twisted theme line Miles himself would have admired. Throughout the recording, Beasley adds acoustic chordal splash and burnished, introspective lines, as well as synthesizer color as needed. Saxophonist Steve Tavaglione and bassist Ricky Minor, both of whom are heard on the album, will be in the quartet Sunday. Come and listen -- Cauldron is certainly among the shapes of jazz to come. At Le Café, Sun. Feb. 2.
Los Angeles Times
A "Cauldron" of Sounds from Pianist Beasley
By Zan Stewart
A lot of jazz artists who want to reach a wide audience often have to water down their music to do it. But not John Beasley.
The pianist's blend of world beat sounds and jazz soloing on his just-out Windham Hill Jazz Records debut, "Cauldron," makes for just the kind of collection that attracts fans from more than one genre.
On the album, which results such classic '60s albums as Herbie Hancock's remarkable "Inventions and Dimensions," Beasley sets up steaming grooves that are underpinned by a variety of rhythmic elements -- among them African, Brazilian, R&B and Latin.
"I wanted tunes that didn't have a lot of notes, that concentrated on melody and rhythm, but that evoked a lot of feeling," says the 32-year-old Beasley, who appears Sunday at Le Café in Sherman Oaks.
And though there's no be-bop per-se on the album, there's still no shortage of invigorating, appealing improvisations from the leader. "I wanted to play with a jazz attitude," he says. Other soloists include saxophonists Bob Sheppard and Steve Tavaglione.
Though electronic sounds filter in and out of the album, Beasley, who toured with Miles Davis in 1991 and who was Freddie Hubbard's pianist for six years, solos only on acoustic piano. "I can't find a synthesizer sound that I like enough, or that I can relate to as far as soloing," he says.
FOLLOW JOHN BEASLEY:
At Le Café, Beasley will offer tunes from the new album, and some jazz tunes, too, such as the Davis-Gil Evans collaboration, "Petits Machins" and Wayne Shorter's "Yes and No."