Musicwise, this week of Hannukah has been very good to us Angelenos: Bobby Bradford joining saxophonist Rich Halley in Eagle Rock and McCoy Tyner joining Michael White and Nels Cline at the Alice Coltrane Tribute -- both on Sunday night, no less; the epic alt-jazz documentary Icons Among Us screening at Ruth Price’s Moveable Feast on Tuesday and one of the film’s subjects The Bad Plus playing at the Mint tonight; Cryptogramophone Records founder Jeff Gauthier debuting his new ensemble The Wisdom of Goats Wednesday at the Royal/T Cafe two days before drummer Allison Miller’s powerhouse Boom Tic Boom (with Jenny Scheinman, Todd Sickafoose and the Bay Area’s brilliant keyboardist Myra Melford) plays the same venue. Whewie!
But the biggest surprise and possibly bigger triumph is the Grammy nomination of John Beasley’s Positootly! in the category of Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group. (Kudos to Bev Hills jazz impresario George Klabin's label Resonance Records.) Beasley will obviously get a huge bump-up in profile (we surmise Herbie Hancock, for whom Beasley once recorded a tribute album, needs no more statues on his mantle) despite quietly building up his credentials on the L.A. jazz/fusion scene for over thirty years. Consequentially, his credits are too numerous for anything but a short list: Freddie Hubbard, Carly Simon, Steely Dan, Barbra Streisand, Christian McBride, James Brown, Dianne Reeves, Ry Cooder, Chick Corea, Queen Latifah. (I think the Spice Girls were in there somewhere as well.) As a leader, Beasley must have known that leaders don't scour without their sidemen, so he pulled in reedman Bennie Maupin, drummer Jeff “Train” Watts, bassist James Genus, trumpeter Brian Lynch and percussionist Munyungo Jackson for Positootly!
The Lousisiana-born Beasley hails from one of those families who seem to have music dripping out of every pore. His mother and father are both musicians and music teachers. His father, bassoonist and pianist Rule Beasley, taught at Santa Monica College back when it was still called 'Pico Tech' and is known for influencing future players like Nels Cline and Jesse Sharps. (As Cline once recalled, Rule's son was “the best musician in band.") What’s more, on more than three occasions I have been mistaken for Mr. Beasley – enough to to where I once dreamt I was sitting onstage at the Jazz Bakery trying to “pass” as The Beas, sweatily plinking out “Chopsticks” and waiting for the audience to find out they’d been ripped off. Personally, I think he’s much better looking than I.
John Beasley will be engaging in a double-gig relay race on Saturday, Dec. 11: First, he'll lead his trio at the Feed the Blue Whale Benefit in Little Tokyo at 7pm. Then, he'll act as the guest arranger with the Luckman Jazz Orchestra for "a repertoire of classic holiday favorites" at 8pm, Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal-State LA.
IN COMPLETELY TOTALLY UNRELATED OTHER NEWS: With the Grammys being announced last week, there was another view of the music industry on display yesterday when the Howard Stern Show had a call-in interview with the neo-legendary rock & roll groupie and workmanlike blowjob queen “Sweet Connie” Hamzy. Her past "collaborators" read like a radio station's record collection: Buddy Rich, Doc Severinsen, Chicago (yes, the whole band), Huey Lewis, Keith Moon, Leslie West, Willie Nelson, John Bonham, Eddie and Alex Van Halen, Paul Shaffer (?!?), Neil Diamond, Rick Springfield, Geddy Lee, Peter Frampton, Don Henley, Stephen Stills, Bun E. Carlos (really?!), Wayon Jennings and several members of the all-girl, all-lesbian horn band Isis (yow). (My fave Connie conquest: Floyd Sneed, drummer for Three Dog Night -- The Sneedster!). Apparently, Sweet Connie was doing promo for the upcoming VH1 rock doc Let’s Spend the Night Together: Confessions of Rock’s Greatest Groupies, which premieres Dec. 15th at 8:30PM on VH1.