Spectacular! What more do I need to say? February 20th the ultra-hip, ultra-cool, ultra-swinging Cat in the Hat, John Beasley’s MONK’estra BIG modern jazz BAND rocked the house at Vitellos’ Restaurant in Studio City.
Supersize figure in the jazz music world, Beasley led a dazzling assemblage of players, including Justo Almario, Bob Sheppard, Jeff Driskill, Tom Luer, Tommy Peterson on Sax, Trumpet, Bijon Watson, Jamie Hovorka, Ray Monterio, Brian Swartz, Gabe Johnson, Trombone Francisco Torres, Wendell Kelly, Andy Martin, Steve Huges, Bass: Rickey Minor, Drums, Tony Austin and Beasley on keyboards and Melodica.
Sculpting Monk’s percussive and dramatic compositions into a mixed media brew of Afro-Cuban beats, hip hop, funk and classic big band sounds, Monkestra turns the legendary pianists work into a contemporary work of art. Monk’s music, spare and minimalist, like Japanese brush painting, gave pianist, composer, Beasley space to display and create his highly personal and explosive interpretation. Clearly enjoying his role as conductor, the Grammy nominated JB took band to new heights with imaginative arrangements of jazz standards.
From the razzle-dazzle of “Little Rootie Tootie, with Rickey Minor laying down a funk bass line for Andy Martin’s trombone and Tom Luer’s tenor, to the capricious ballad “ Ask Me Now” featuring JB on the melodic Melodic, the band, surprised, beguiled, and wowed, like a magician pulling new tricks out of a magic bag.
The newly remodeled Vitello’s with its intimate upstairs room is a perfect venue for great listening, and wonderful dining featuring traditional Italian cuisine. Check out their calendar for future shows at http://www.vitellosrestaurant.com