From: MA, United States
Genre: R&B, Smooth Jazz
Over the past three decades, saxophonist Walter Beasley has artfully and dynamically redefined the phrase “musical Renaissance Man” for the modern generation. Considered by fans and critics alike as the “heir to Grover Washington, Jr.’s Throne,” Beasley is the acclaimed saxophonist, vocalist, educator, and entrepreneur of the decade. As the highest selling full-time Professor / Recording Artist in history, the Boston-based musician has long mastered an exhilarating high wire act of balancing a successful career as a contemporary jazz recording artist and performer with an equally thriving presence in the field of music education.
A leading alto and soprano saxophonist and prominent vocalist all the same, Beasley performs heavily along the East Coast and throughout the U.S. and Caribbean. Notable performances include the all-star tour To Grover, With Love, performing alongside Chuck Loeb, Buddy Williams and Andy Snitzer and performing as the headlining act for the 2011 Playboy Jazz Festival.
Recent works include his Sax Meditations and Live in the Groove, both released through his Affable Publishing, as well as Free Your Mind on Heads Up, whose presence earned Beasley the 2009 Jazz Awards, and his latest Backatcha on Shanachie Entertainment / Affable, featuring his hot single, Lovely Day. During 2011, Backatcha rose to #10 on Billboard Top 50, with his single “The Call” debuting at 30 on Billboard Smooth Jazz chart and #3 Most Added in June 2011. Beasley announced this year he is now distributing his music to Japan, while adding his Sax Meditations and Live In the Groove to Pandora’s Music Genome Project.
Since 2008, Beasley continues to thrive at the forefront of digital media and communication by offering consultation services to independent sax artists via Skype. Students are worldwide and include those new to playing saxophone, along with experienced players, both young and seasoned. He extends his influence to the younger generation, sharing his experiences and educational expertise through "saxtalk blogs" on YouTube. Beasley creates instructional DVDs for young players who are not able to afford a traditional music education. Projects include 14 Steps To Maximizing your Performance, which is also currently available for download on his official website. His other best selling videos released through his Affable Publishing include Sound Production for the Saxophone, Hip Hop Improvisation, Circular Breathing and Performance Workshop. Beasley has also released several apps, which are available at iTunes.com
The world-renowned musician and educator began his musical journey at the age of 9 years old when his Aunt gave him his first Grover Washington, Jr. record. Before long, he bought a copy of Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway’s 1972 collaboration album. These two classic recordings became the foundation of the young saxman and vocalist’s musical awakening.
A native of El Centro, California, Beasley’s musical career began around 1973 while singing for the Spanish band, Los Elegantes, which continued throughout his middle and high school years. By his early teens, Beasley was playing saxophone in various bands around Southern California. "I started singing in Spanish at around 14," he says. "I was like an anomaly – the black kid in southern California, singing in Spanish. People got a kick out of it. I learned from playing Latin music how important romance was, and is, in music. Singing and playing those songs, I think, forever shaped the way I wanted to convey messages to people."
Beasley graduated from Berklee College of Music in the early '80s, alongside future superstar classmates like saxophonist Branford Marsalis and vocalist Rachelle Ferrell. He took a teaching position at the same school a year later – initially as a short-term gig, but one that has lasted more than 20 years. "I was only planning on staying for a year or two, getting a record deal and then moving back to California," he says. "But once I saw musicians move an audience through the use of techniques that I showed them, I was a sucker for teaching."
Remarkably, Beasley has partaken in all of these exciting activities while maintaining a full teaching schedule at Berklee. Presently, he teaches vocal and rhythm section ensembles (in both classroom and performance settings), private sax lessons, vocal delivery for singers and improvisation for instrumentalists, both on campus and at home. He has also developed an active side business as a career consultant for aspiring musicians. His areas of expertise include: maximizing musical performance and skills; overcoming performance anxiety; jazz/R&B improvisation; vocal delivery; saxophone technique/sound production; and R&B/jazz ensemble performance.
While Beasley's passion for performing is unmistakable, he shares "I truly love the challenge of being able to transform a rhythm section that has nothing to offer up front into a section that comes to believe in itself as a unit. I love playing my own music live, but no moment I've ever had onstage matches the excitement of discovering this kind of success in the classroom. But that's the beauty of my dual career—I love doing both!