Talks with Walter Beasley
BBOL: The new album, “Go with the flow”
is classic Walter Beasley – a mix of up tempo songs, mellow ballads,
and a few surprises. How difficult is it to distance yourself from your
previous work when it’s time to begin developing new material
for a new release?
WB: I never listen to my previous recording
while working on the next.
It is important for me to focus on the inspiration and not on past product.
In this way I am able to grow and allow the music to speak through me
without questioning whether it measures up to past releases.
Do you ever listen to any of your own records?
No I never listen to my records.When I retire I will spend some
time reflecting on my career but not at the moment. What I have begun
to do is cherish the accomplishments. My friend Robert Parish was concerned
about my work ethic and said that if he could do it over again he would
have enjoyed his successes. I learned from that and have slowed down
my life and tried to become more balanced in my approach to my music,
family, and life.
Media exposure is the key to sales, however in Boston we’ve been
without a contemporary jazz radio station for a few years now. This
is a trend that has affected several major cities. Fortunately, a host
of “Internet Radio” stations such as SmoothJazz.com have
sprung up, providing the latest releases, 24 by 7. Have you seen any
positive results from this “new” media?
WB: I think
it might be the wave of the future but it will take time and money to
convince the average person to consider them an alternative. Most people
find out about my new projects through the cable stations, satellite
TV, and my new website www.walterbeasley.com.
In our opinion, in addition to being a great saxophonist, you’re
also a great vocalist. That’s a quality few instrumentalists can
boast. George Benson is the only other name that immediately comes to
mind. Have you ever considered releasing a completely vocal recording?
I can say that I am very blessed to have a pleasant singing voice and
have developed it over the years to a level that enables me to make
people feel.That has always been my goal to make people feel by whatever
means I have at my disposal. As for a complete vocal recording, I will
keep that in mind. I have never thought about it. Thanks.
BBOL: A lot of younger musicians breaking into the
business today lack an appreciation of the “forefathers”
(Bird, Trane, Carter, etc,). As a graduate of Berkley and a member of
the faculty, how critical is it to study and appreciate the history
of the music?
I think it is critical to meet the youth where they are and work
back to Bird, Parker, etc. We are more than forty years away from the
last “great jazz records” so in my opinion lets move the
conversation to what will it take to create the type of relationship
between the young and not so young musicians that enables us to fuse
Hip hop, Funk, R+B and Trad Jazz so that we once again can be the innovators
of a music that will exemplify the depth and breadth of our experiences.
What contemporary artists do you listen to?
I like Naz, HI Tech, Mos def, Pat Metheny, Kirk Whalum, Branford
Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Talib and West Coast Rap. I get bored easily
so I don’t listen to to much of the new stuff. I love old school.
In addition to the new album, there’s also a new DVD video performance
filmed live at Scullers. Suddenly, Jazz DVDs are starting to attract
a lot of consumer interest. It’s a great way to relive the concert
experience. How did that come about?
I will probably be retiring from the road in August of 2004 so I wanted
to make sure that my audience knew where to pick up live raw material
of Walter Beasley live so I took some footage from Scullers and created
a DVD of which I am extremely proud. It is on my label Affable Records
at walterbeasley.com and I just love watching how very silly and relaxed
I have become in front of people while performing and seeing what beautiful
people will inspire you to do during a live performance.
With your busy touring schedule, when can we expect to see Walter Beasley
in Boston again?
My next Boston date will be Steppin out and I hope I see as many
as possible there.I am so blessed by this community it’s a great
way to say thank you for all you have done.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Check out the review of Walter Beasley's lastest CD "Go With the