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John Beasley wins „Spheres of a Genius“, a composition competition by JAM MUSIC LAB and Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna

To celebrate the occasion of the 100th birthday of Thelonious Monk in year 2017, JAM MUSIC LAB and the Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna organized „Spheres of a Genius“, an international composition competition. 

The winner is composer and pianist John Beasley. 

The prize-winning work „Simplexity“ will be premiered on June 7th, 2018 in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein. 
Details about this event

About John Beasley

Pianist, composer, arranger: John Beasley’s career brims with accomplishments that bridge musical and visual media. An uncommonly versatile pianist, he has backed such jazz icons as Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard – playing in the bands of both these trumpet greats while still in his 20s – as well as with Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan, Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, and Christian McBride (and even, for one night, with James Brown). His extensive work as a composer-arranger extends way beyond jazz, with many credits in television and film– including a host of movies scored by multiple Oscar nominee Thomas Newman – that have earned him five GRAMMY® nominations and an Emmy nod along the way.

The son of a professional bassoonist, Beasley started writing his own arrangements while still in junior high school. These caught the attention of Jimmy Lyons, founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival, who recommended him for a scholarship at the Stan Kenton summer jazz camp. Immediately after high school, Beasley headed for New York to immerse himself in the jazz scene. He soon moved to Los Angeles, where he was soon performing and recording with some of the best-known artists in the pop-music world, including Sergio Mendes, George Duke, and Queen Latifah.

Living in Hollywood, Beasley juggled a touring musician’s schedule while composing for award-winning television programs such as Cheers, Fame, Family Ties, and the series premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Through his three-decade association with Thomas Newman, he has contributed to such films as Spectre and Skyfall (both starring Daniel Craig as James Bond), The Shawshank Redemption, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (I & II), Finding Nemo, Finding Dory and Wall-E. Beasley was the lead arranger for the juggernaut reality show American Idol, where as associate musical director he helped usher Carrie Underwood to victory in 2005. He has served as musical director for several other TV hits, including Duets, Sing Your Face Off, and the Sports Illustrated 50th Anniversary special.

In 1992 Beasley released Cauldron, the first of eleven recordings under his name (produced by Steely Dan’s Walter Becker), and he received his first GRAMMY nomination for the 2009 album Positootly! His two most recent releases, MONK’estra Vol.1 and MONK’estra Vol.2, each earned two GRAMMY nominations, for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Arranging.

Beasley has served as musical director for the Thelonious Monk Institute’s annual gala concerts since 2011, guiding legends as well as the next generation of jazz greats through all-star tributes to Quincy Jones, Bill Clinton, George Duke, and Aretha Franklin. Since UNESCO’s inauguration of International Jazz Day in 2012, Beasley has also directed the organization’s annual concerts broadcast globally from Paris, Istanbul, Osaka, and Cuba, and the notable 2016 concert at the White House, hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Beasley seamlessly shaped that concert – starring Sting, Aretha Franklin, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Kurt Elling, and Joey Alexander – into a televised night of swing and celebration, garnering his Emmy nomination in the process.

Beasley wears enough hats to qualify as a haberdasher’s dream. In addition to all of the above, he has co-produced albums by legendary guitarist Lee Ritenour, oft-awarded vocalist Dianne Reeves, and former Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine, whose Dr.Um received a 2017 GRAMMY nomination. For two seasons, Beasley directed the Toyota Symphonies for Youth’s “Jazz and the Orchestra” for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His current worldwide tour with MONK’estra features stops in 25 cities, including Berlin, Frankfurt, New York, Tokyo, San Francisco, Rotterdam (North Sea Jazz Festival), London, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

GRAMMY®-nominated recording artist and Emmy-nominated Music Director John Beasley’s music career spans four decades with credits that read like a “who’s who” list in the music and film/TV entertainment.


Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Carly Simon, Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Lee Ritenour, Kenny Garrett, AR Rahman, Baaba Mal, Jon Hassell, Ivan Lins, Sergio Mendes, Yosvany Terry, Ruthie Foster, Dave Gruisin, even a stint with James Brown, to name a few.


  • MONK’estra, Vol 2: John Beasley conductor/arranger  - Mack Avenue Records (2017)double-Grammy nominated
  • MONK’estra, Vol 1: John Beasley conductor/arranger  - Mack Avenue Records (2016) double-Grammy nominated
  • 3 Brave Souls: John Beasley, Ndugu Chancler, Darryl Jones -  BFM Jazz
  • Positootly!: Jeff Watts, Bennie Maupin, James Genus - Resonance Records Grammy nominated
  • Letter to Herbie: Jeff Watts, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride - Resonance Records
  • One LIVE Night: Gary Novak, Dave Carpenter, Carlos Del Puerto – BFM Jazz
  • Nuances: solo piano - EWE Japan
  • Surfacing: Vinnie Colaiuta, Robert Hurst - EWE Japan, BFM Jazz
  • Cauldron: John Patittucci, Bill Summers, Rickey Minor, Peter Erskine - Windham Hill (producer Walter Becker)
  • A Change of Heart: John Patittucci, Terri Lynn Carrington, Freddie Washington - Windham Hill (producer Walter Becker)
  • 10/10:The Music of Thelonious Monk: John Beasley and Steve Cardenas,TDK Japan
  • Commotion 2: Sampler of Windham Hill Jazz – Windham Hill
  • Mose the Fireman: (book on tape, narrator Michael Keaton, music by John Beasley and Walter Becker)     

Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Blue House Orchestra (Sweden), Russian Jazz Orchestra, Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, upcoming: HR Big Band (Frankfurt), college big bands, including Juiliard, Rutgers, U of Miami/Frost, Manhattan School of Music, University of South Florida playing the music of MONK’estra


  • International Jazz Day galas: upcoming St Petersburb (2018), Havana (2017), White House (DC) 2016, Paris 2015+2012, Osaka 2014, Istanbul 2013
  • New Orleans Tri-Centennial Celeb Concert, 2018
  • Quincy Jones Celebration @ Lincoln Center 2018
  • Dianne Reeves Many Rivers Civil Rights concert 2016
  • Thelonious Monk Institute Tribute galas: Quincy Jones 2015, Bill Clinton 2014, George Duke 2013, 25th Anniversary Gala Tribute to Aretha Franklin 2012
  • Tribute to George Duke, MD and co-producer with Darlene Chan/Festival West at Playboy Jazz Festival and Capitol Jazz Festival
  • Jazz and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Disney Hall: Youth Concert series: Host/MD/Bandleader 2011 + 2014
  • Steely Dan Art Crimes world tour
  • Queen Latifah’s Travelin’ Lite 40-city US Tour
  • AR Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire composer) Jai Ho world tour
  • Carly Simon Aboard the Queen Mary PBS TV piano and conductor



  • Dr.Um Second Opinion Peter Erskine and John Beasley (co-producers), Bob Sheppard, Ben Shepherd (2016)
  • Dr.Um + Lost Pages Peter Erskine and John Beasley (co-producers) Janek Gwizdala, Bob Sheppard, Larry Koonse, Aaron Serfaty, Jack Fletcher –Fuzzy Music (2016) Grammy nominated
  • A Twist of Rit Lee Ritenour and John Beasley (co-producers) – Concord Records
  • EWE Records: Yosvany Terry Metamorphis, Chie Ayado:Time, Shine, Life, Yota Miyazato Colors
  • Miscellaneous: Bob Sheppard, Woong San


  • Films: James Bond: Spectre + Skyfall, Finding Dory + Finding Nemo, Get on Up (James Brown), Exotic Marigold Hotel I + II, He called me Malala, Wall-E, Shawshank Redemption, Godfather III, and 100+ films as drum/synthesizer programmer and pianist
  • TV:  2016 National Democratic Convention underscore, Touchstone TV logo, Award-winning TV series: Fame, Cheers, Family Ties, Star Trek: Next Generation
  • Commercials: Oldsmobile, Blockbuster, Hyundai, Toyota, Dodge and 100+


  • International Jazz Day in Cuba – BET 2017
  • Jazz at the White House – 2016 Emmy Nomination for Best Music Direction - ABC
  • Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful, MD and theme composer - NBC 2014
  • American Idol (multi-platinum Carrie Underwood victory in 2005, Associate Music Director) FOX 2005
  • American Idol Lead Arranger FOX 2015 -2016
  • Sing Your Face Off - ABC 2014
  • Duets with John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, Jennifer Nettles - ABC 2012
  • Search for the Next Pussycat Dolls - CW 2007
  • Carly Simon A Moonlight Serenade aboard Queen Mary, Conductor - PBS 2005


  • Rhianna VMA performance 2016, Robert Glasper performance African American Museum 2016 Opening Concert ABC TV, SR Big Band Stuttgart-Germany, Luckman Jazz Orchestra
  • TV shows: American Idol (2005-2016), The Tonight Show, VHI Divas special, The Winner Is, America’s Got Talent, Singing Bee, Duets, Search for the Next Pussy Cat Doll



  • 4 GRAMMY® nominations: MONK’estra Vol. 1 and MONK’estra Vol. 2,

Best Large Jazz Ensemble, Best Arrangement, 2018 + 2017

  • GRAMMY® nomination: Dr.Um Peter Erskine+John Beasley, Best Instrumental Jazz album, 2017
  • Emmy nomination: Jazz at the White House, Best Musical Direction, 2016
  • GRAMMY® nomination: Positootly!, Best Instrumental Jazz album, 2011


  • Guest Lecturer: Juiliard NY, Rutgers NJ, Rotterdam Conservatory, ASCAP, I Create Music, GRAMMY®
  • Governor of the Board GRAMMY/The Recording Academy
Authored on April 12th, 2018