For the 2018 Purdue Jazz Fest, we will celebrate jazz legend Thelonious Monk's centennial birthday by welcoming John Beasley's MONK'estra to Loeb Playhouse. This group will honor Monk's work with fresh, buoyant arrangements.
Thelonious Monk is a monolithic monument to modern jazz, keeping guard over it for eternity. Honed at Harlem’s Minton Playhouse in the 1940s, Monk’s angular chords, spacious riffs, and explosive technique shifted cultural tastes from big band swing toward bebop’s mesmerizing dissonance and breakneck improvisation.
For the 2018 Purdue Jazz Fest, it is an honor to celebrate Monk’s centennial birth and his undying influence on the form by welcoming John Beasley’s MONK’estra. This multiple-GRAMMY® nominated ensemble brings jazz full circle, translating Monk’s work into the big band format with fresh, buoyant arrangements.
Beasley hits us dead center with studio-smart takes on Monk’s deep book… features rapid-fire surprises, spiky asides and a quirky sense of truthful swing. Beasley’s band will leave you rapt. He brings Monk to life once again for modern-minded listeners.
— Downbeat – 4.5/5 stars
Led by Beasley, MONK’estra evokes its namesake’s singular spirit: the offbeat melodies and humor, strange beauty, and unbounded swing, now infused with New Orleans spirit, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and other atmospheric colors. Their sound reflects the far-ranging travels of Beasley, a GRAMMY® and Emmy Award-nominated pianist, composer, and arranger who has shared stages with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Dianne Reeves, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, and Christian McBride. He is also the music director for the Thelonious Monk Institute, where he oversees UNESCO’s International Jazz Day global concerts and annual competition galas. Within 13 months, Mack Avenue Records released two MONK’estra albums and both received double-nominations in “Best Large Jazz Ensemble” and “Best Arrangement.” Beasley and his 15-piece orchestra will perform songs from MONK’estra, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 in Loeb Playhouse.
By retaining Monk’s nimble, sometimes jarring syncopation and adding big band playfulness and exuberance, Beasley’s MONK’estra casts appreciative upward glances at the man who made it possible while making its own mark on his material.
7PM / STEW 310
GRAMMY-nominated pianist John Beasley of MONK’estra and Don Seybold, host of WBAA’s Inside Jazz, will lead a discussion about the evening’s performance.
This performance serves as Purdue Convocations’ annual contribution to the Purdue Jazz Festival, a Purdue University Bands event that brings more than 2,500 middle- and high-school students to campus for clinics and concerts with noted jazz artists and clinicians. See details at Purdue University Bands & Orchestras.