Letter to Herbie

Letter to Herbie

by John Beasley


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Letter to Herbie

Keyboardist John Beasley has enjoyed success as a commercially oriented contemporary instrumentalist, and it is not surprising that he, like so many others, owes a debt of gratitude to Herbie Hancock. Beasley has chosen to rework some of the compositions Hancock made famous in his early days as a leader, and during the time with the funk/fusion band the Headhunters. Playing mainly the acoustic piano and teamed with heavyweights Christian McBride and Jeff Watts, there's a drive, verve, and passion in the trio that matches the pianist's desire to take Hancock's music to a different level. Trumpeter Roy Hargrove is teamed with flute player Steve Tavaglione for the most intriguing idea, combining the bass and piano underpinning of "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" under the lead line of "Maiden Voyage" and creating "Bedtime Voyage." The two songs fit beautifully in the same key. "Eye of the Hurricane" is rearranged, hinting at the original but incorporating some complex rhythm changes, with Hargrove extrapolating on the original theme played by Freddie Hubbard. "4 A.M." goes into alternating phases from funky to hard bop to staggered phrasings, a very busy and fun alteration. McBride and Watts are enjoying adapting these tunes they also deem precious, using pedal points, complex and driven rhythm devices on the elongated version of Hancock's "One Finger Snap" that Beasley has written as "Three Finger Snap." The project overall tends to lose momentum on the light funk of "Chan's Song," the ballad waltz written by Wayne Shorter "Diana," Beasley's melodic original "Hear & Now," Hancock's "Still Time" and the reggae flavored "The Naked Camera." The pianist himself is a worthy foil for his acclaimed workmates, and in fact has never sounded better. More than up to the task, he is able to push and pull the bass and drums seemingly at will, and possesses impressive chops and witty ideas that flow throughout. This is a fledgling effort for the Resonance label of which Beasley is a major contributor and an A&R man. This is a credible and laudable effort.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/08/2008
Label: Resonance Records
UPC: 0724101899621
catalogNumber: 1003
Rank: 123658

Album Credits

Performance Credits

John Beasley   Primary Artist,Synthesizer,Piano,Clavinet,fender rhodes,Piano (Grand)
Roy Hargrove   Trumpet
Jeff "Tain" Watts   Percussion,Drums
Luis Conte   Percussion,Drums
Christian McBride   Electric Bass,Acoustic Bass
Michael O'Neill   Guitar
Steve Tavaglione   Synthesizer,Bass Clarinet,Alto Flute

Technical Credits

Herbie Hancock   Composer
Joseph d'Onofrio   Producer,Audio Production
George Klabin   Producer,Engineer,Liner Notes,Executive Producer,Audio Production
Pierre Paul   Engineer

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