Recognized as one of the top jazz clubs in the USA

BlackBostonOnline 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.

BBOL: Do you ever listen to any of your own records?

WB: 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.

BBOL: 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 have sprung up, providing the latest releases, 24 by 7. Have you seen any positive results from this “new” media?

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

BBOL: 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?

WB: 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?

WB: 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.

BBOL: What contemporary artists do you listen to?

WB: 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.

BBOL: 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?

WB: 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 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.

BBOL: With your busy touring schedule, when can we expect to see Walter Beasley in Boston again?

WB: 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.

BBOL: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

WB: Thank you.

Check out the review of Walter Beasley's lastest CD "Go With the Flow" here.


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