Santa Monica High School graduate and Jazz musician extraordinaire John Beasley has earned four Grammy nominations, placing him in the top tier of nomination-getters tied with popstars Justin Bieber and Billie Eilish.
Beasley received two nominations for his 16 piece Jazz Ensemble MONK’estra: one for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for “MONK’estra Plays John Beasley”, and a second for Best Arrangement Instrumental or A Capella arrangement for “Donna Lee”.

He was also nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album for conducting and arranging “Holy Room: Live at Alte Oper” performed by Somi with Frankfurt Radio Big Band, and Best Arrangement Instrument and Vocals for arranging “Asas Fechas” performed by Maria Mendes.
Beasley has been playing music before he could walk and talk—if you count pots and pans as percussion instruments—and is deeply honored by the academy’s recognition.

“This is not public voting like the AMAs, these are my peers; they are musicians, producers, songwriters. It’s really the people that do the heavy lifting for music, so it’s an honor to be considered one out of five of maybe hundreds of records that were submitted,” said Beasley.
While he studied a variety of genres growing up, Jazz was and remains Beasley’s first true love, as he is captivated by the excitement and dynamics of improvisational music.

“There are infinite possibilities at any time,” said Beasley. “You are improvising with other people who are improvising, so it’s constantly changing. It’s like the natural world — nothing stays the same.”
With two band conductors for parents, Beasley was raised around instruments, sheet music, and musicians. He made his first public debut at the age of five when his mother needed an extra trumpet player for her marching band parade.

During his last year of junior high school the family relocated to Santa Monica as Beasley’s mother got a job teaching orchestra at John Adams Middle School and his father got a job teaching at Santa Monica College.
Beasley played in the John Adams and Samohi orchestras as well as pop, rock, and jazz bands with friends. Many years later he is still a proud Westside resident, living in nearby Venice.

In addition to performance music, Beasley is also skilled at arranging music for TV and film.

“You have the inspiration of the film and script to help you come up with the ideas of the score, which is awesome,” said Beasley. “Music and film fit together like I don’t know.. chocolate and hazelnuts!”

Beasley assisted composer Thomas Newman arrange the score for 1917, which Newman received a Grammy nomination for. Beasley also worked with Newman on HBO Max’s movie Let Them All Talk featuring Meryl Streep. Beasley orchestrated and arranged the jazz score, which was then performed and recorded by his MONK’estra band.

While Beasley is continuing to work on projects, including a collection intended to inspire people to vote in Georgia, he longs for the days of live performance.

“I definitely miss being out on the road and performing for people. I miss that connection terribly, because you get so much from the audience,” said Beasley. “I think that was one of the first things we musicians realized during the pandemic and maybe some of us had even lost sight of that fact and tended to take it for granted. I think streaming is cool for right now but there’s nothing like the real deal.”

The Recording Academy will present the 63rd annual Grammy awards on CBS on Jan. 31, 2021 from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. PT hosted by Trevor Noah of the “The Daily Show”. The ceremony will also stream live on www.grammy.com

Clara@smdp.com