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John Beasley’s MONK’estra

Friday, January 19, 2018 / 8:00 pm
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For the 2018 Purdue Jazz Fest, it is an honor to celebrate jazz legend Thelonius Monk's centennial birthday and his undying influence on the form by welcoming John Beasley's MONK'estra. This group brings jazz full circle, translating Monk's work into the large ensemble format with fresh, buoyant arrangements.

  • John Beasley's MONK’estra

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.

Purdue Jazz Festival

Spectacular!… Ultra-hip, ultra-cool, ultra-swinging.”

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 ensemble brings jazz full circle, translating Monk’s work into the big band format with fresh, buoyant arrangements. Led by Beasley on piano, the 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 James Brown. 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. In 2016, Mack Avenue Records released the MONK’estra’s debut album, MONK’estra, Volume 1.

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
Join Don Seybold, host of WBAA’s Inside Jazz, for a discussion about the evening’s performance.