Beasley found his roots in Grover Washington's music. After more than
20 years at the forefront of smooth jazz he is established as one of
the most prolific sax players of this genre. He put the base for his
position by his work as teacher at Berklee College of Music. "I was
only planning on staying for a year or two, getting a record deal and
then moving back to California," comments Walter. "But once I saw
musicians move an audience through the use of techniques that I showed
them, I was a sucker for teaching. It was a joy. It moved me. At that
point, I made a decision to learn as much about teaching as I could.
It's very important that I give something back and experience as many
students as I can".
"To know that I
can play, sing, record, tour and teach - all on my own terms -
is the greatest blessing one could ever ask for," he says. "That's
where I am at this stage. It's a great thing. There's really nothing
that I can say I want to do differently than what I'm doing right
musical standard of his new album Ready
For Love is comprehensibly with
this personal attitude. "This record is an indication of what hard
work, dedication, talent and effort will accomplish, and it's a
gesture of love and appreciation for the people who have supported me
along the way."
The first track
Free was already released on the
compilation of Narada Jazz "The Love Project" (2004). It's a cover of
Deniece Williams original, performed at her debut album "This Is
Niecy" (1976) with the support of Maurice White and members of EWF.
Tiffany Davis hums the melody which is mostly interpreted by Walter
Beasley's alto sax. Phil Davis who is also producer of this tune
delivers a rich tapestry of keyboard sound and strings. "I just think
that song – especially the saxophone work during the outro – sets the
tone for the whole album," means Walter Beasley.
grow up in Southern California and unlike other kids he preferred Latin
music. Although the second tune is called La Nina,
indicating something Latin it's a pure smooth jazz etude.
favorites are classic R&B songs like Be Thankful.
William deVaughn had a huge hit with "Be Thankful for What You Got,"
which was the summer jam of 1974. Beasley's vocals can absolutely
concur with his sax play. A mighty voice.
Ready For Love
has an awesome intro by keyboardist James Lloyd (POAD). I love these
keyboard sounds. Unlike other smooth jazz production Beasley didn't
overdub his sax but gives Eddie Baccus Jr. opportunity to play the
second sax. Eddie already appeared on several albums of POAD.
Rhea's Song is
a good example that Beasley steps back to let other musicians air for
expansion. In this case it's Phil Davis on keyboards, on other tracks
did James Lloyd the fine interpretation.
dead. On She Moves Me Walter
Beasley chooses a light reggae rhythm for his melody. But he mélanges
the melody with jazz improvisations. "Hands down, that's my favorite
song on the album," he says with no hesitation. "That was the first
time I ever wrote anything in a reggae style. It's a beautiful song
that goes through various time changes. It just grooves. It moved me
when I was recording it, and it still moves me whenever I hear it."
Miss You is
hold in the tradition of classic soul. Chorus, strings, arrangement,
brass, really all is perfectly incorporated into this song by Terrence
McNeil. If Walter Beasley wouldn't choose his instrument he could be
the second Luther Vandross.
Lands Of The Sun Walter Beasley opens a
totally other direction. Quim Quer is Beasley's partner as
keyboardist, programmer, writer and producer. His real name is Joaquim
Quer. He is known as producer and composer of remixes in the dance or
chill-out genre. Beasley integrates elements of chill-out into his
smooth jazz style.
Puddin' is actually a slang term that
we used in the South, where I spent my summers with my grandparents,"
comments Beasley. "It could be a reference to a little girl, or a
girlfriend, or any girl who moves your heart in some way. Now, as I
got older, I started to understand the more spicy definition of the
term. I'll just leave the rest to the imagination." It's really
a sweet slow-tempo melody.
tastes some disco rhythm guided by James Lloyd with Why Not You.
Bout Dat Time again?
Willa Mae's Place
is a tribute to Willa Mae Brothers, a lady who gave Beasley some much
needed direction many years ago when he was a student at Berklee
College of Music in Boston. "When my parents were very far away, and I
was dealing with different issues and challenges in my life -
musically, personally, economically - she was there to really make
sure that I considered all my options and made the right decisions,"
Beasley explains. "She was a foundation for me. She's gone now, but
she made a big impact on my life." Beasley performs this tune with
much sensitivity. One really can feel his reverence to this deceased
lady with so much merits.
on this album his openess for other music styles without abonding his
musical authenticity. He is in a class by itself.