John Beasley: Bedtime Voyage
John Beasley (piano)
Letter to Herbie (Resonance Records 1003)
Steve Tavaglione (alto flute), Louis Conte (percussion), Michael O’Neill (guitar).
Arranged by John Beasley, composed by Herbie Hancock.
Recorded: No info given (CD released in 2008)
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
Everybody from Ayler to Zappa has a tribute band. We love to pay our respects to the masters of the past. But how do you get traction on a Herbie Hancock tribute recording, when Herbie is still active and just released one of the finest CDs of his career? Beasley starts with ambitious plans for personnel. Christian McBride and Jeff 'Tain' Watts electrify the rhythm section, and Roy Hargrove shines on trumpet. Clever arrangements help too. Hancock never wrote a song called "Bedtime Voyage," but Beasley does a 'mash-up' of "Maiden Voyage" and "Tell Me A Bedtime Story," two of Herbie's finest compositions. This mash is a real banger, and I would go back for second helpings. Beasley is quite effective, especially as a rhythm section pianist, and has mastered a number of Hancock's signature devices. Some of his most interesting work here comes in easily missed passages tossed off while comping. All in all, this is a strong performance and a notch above your typical tribute project.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia