eclectic and iconoclastic, Advocate is the
latest renegade statement from keyboardist Jim Beard. An
accomplished composers, arranger and producer who has
demonstrated a knack for studio craft in presiding over
recordings by the likes of Michael and Randy Brecker, Mike Stern, Victor Bailey, Bill Evans, Bob Berg and Eliane Elias, Beard invariably reserves his most idiosyncratic
and compelling work for his own projects.
of it is a reaction to what Im experiencing and
seeing, says Beard, whether its reacting to the
music world in general or even reacting to my own solo
Advocate, he explains, is in some
ways a reaction to his more tightly orchestrated offerings like
1991s Song Of The Sun, 1995s Lost At The
Carnival or 1997s ESC Records debut, Truly. A lot
of my tendencies before have been to put a lot more weight into
the craft and the arrangement, details with orchestration and
that whole world, which has always been important to me but tends
to squeeze out the real blowing. Generally speaking, theres
more playing on this records. I was trying to keep it open and
have the musicians personalities contribute more to the
freewheeling aesthetic can be heard on the surging opener
Fever and on the buoyant, Weather Report-ish
Hope, both of which feature Jim stretching heroically
on synthesizer in the stellar company of bassist Matthew Garrison, drummer Gene Lake, percussionist Arto
Tuncboyaciyan and reedman Bob Malach. He digs into his Fender Rhodes electric piano
with abandon, ŕ la mid 70s Herbie Hancock, on the warm,
grooving vehicle Mirrors and on the kicking closer
Trip. And on two tunes, the funky mambo
Princess and the subtly Latin-flavored
Jambolay, he solos and comps brilliantly on grand
uncompromising, Advocate is Beards
next bold move in a career devoted to highly individualistic
statements. It really isnt contrived,
its really just what I feel, says the
gifted artist who has toured and recorded with the likes of Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, John Scofield and Pat Metheny. There was never a
little voice in the back of my mind saying. Well, this song
might be too long for radio or its getting a little bit too
wild for this format or I wonder if this group of people would be
slightly offended by this certain tune? If that voice ever
started to show its little head I would whack it down and
say, Go away! I dont want to hear that little
voice at all. So with this record in particular, there really was
no check system in place at all. Obviously, thats never
been a strong shaping factor in any of music, but lot of times in
the past I would kind of tip my hat to certain musical modes or
styles. I dont really feel like I was doing much hat
tipping on this one.
couple of tunes, like the funky Princess or the warm,
romantic Mirrors, Beard did allow some of his
earliest musical influences to seep through, namely War and
Stevie Wonder. Ive really come to realize
how much the music that surrounded me in high school - 70s
AM radio music - is still with me, he says.Even
though I studied with David Baker at Indiana University and also
studied privately with George Shearing, its almost like
70s AM radio music had more effect on me than what I
thought I was taking seriously. And I think now Im just
relaxing and letting go of all the constraints and the norms that
can be so prominent in music.
Jim consciously decided to avoid any strict jazz connotations by
not using saxophone as a melodic voice on Advocate a
continuation of his stance on Truly... - he affects a
jazzy aesthetic with his vibes sample on Relief, a
tune that conjures up George Shearings mellow sound from
the early 60s with the Montgomery brothers. In a devilish
bit of irony, he titles one of the more twisted pieces on the
album Jazz, which juxtaposes a myriad of elements
into a swirling cornucopia of sound.
Im always feel
challenged to combine unseeming elements together,
says the upstart composer. Normally youd
think they didnt belong together but I try to make it seem
as if they do belong together. You hear that on Jazz
and you also get that feeling on Hope, where
the melody is in more of an up positive vibe but then
there are these sections that are kind of darker and sinister
sounding. I like that idea swinging freely between sinister and
positive, good and evil.
the wackiest song on Advocate, At The Glee Club is a
comic collaboration with the members of Blüth, the absurdist
ensemble featuring bassist Lefebvre and drummer Danziger and
whose lead singer Pete Devenport has carved out his own unique
niche as a frontman. This is my reaction to the
guest vocalist on jazz records phenomenon, such as
David Sanborn having Sting singing Aint No Sunshine
When Shes Gone says Beard with a
smirk. Everybodys gotta have Sting singing
something on their jazz record. So I thought, OK,
heres my guest vocalist Pete Davenport from Blüth.
And you know, for a few months I was questioning whether or not I
should put this on the album. Here was that little voice again
that popped up and said, Well, this might offend some
people or youll lose half your audience here... some people
are going to think its too outrageous. And as soon as
that voice started talking, it was like,Well, of course I
have to put in on the record. That answers the question for
continues his ongoing musical relationship with Wayne Shorter,
whom he began playing with in 1986, around the time of
Shorters Phantom Navigator. Says Jim of the iconic composer
and saxophonist, As an improviser, his playing
transcends the saxophone, As a composer, hes a master and
hes getting better with the age. The stuff he is writing
now is on such a high level. And yet offstage, just hanging out
with him in an airport or where ever, he maintains a kind of
he has absorbed invaluable lessons for his long association with
Shorter, Jim continues to thumb his nose at convention on his
own upstart projects. Musically, in someway, I
feel like Im the little four year old kid who is not
getting the kind of attention he wants, starts picking up his
plates and flinging them on the kitchen floor. It feels like a
joyful rage and reaction to my loathing of smooth jazz but also
my loathing of this macho, chest-beating, look-at-me-play jazz
musician, who couldnt care less about what material
hes playing as long as he gets a 15 minute solo. I loathe
Jim Beard Solo:
1995 - Jim Beard "Lost at the Carnival"
1997 - Jim Beard "Truly"
Jim Beard With:
1986 - John McLaughlin "Adventers in Radioland"
(composer of "The Wait")
1987 - Wayne Shorter "Phantom Navigator"
1987 - Toninho Horta "Diamond Land"
1987 - Dave Liebman "Homage to John Coltrane"
1988 - Mike Stern "Time in Place"
1988 - Peter Erskine "Motion Pet"
1989 - Michael Brecker "Don't Try This at Home"
(composer & player)
1989 - Victor Bailey "Bottoms Up"
1989 - Mike Stern "Jigsaw"
1989 - Eliane Elias "So Far So Close"
1989 - Jeff Tyzik "Distant Dreams" (composer
1989 - Bill Evans "Let the Juices loose"
(composer & player)
1990 - Rick Margitsa "Colors"
1990 - Creed Taylor "Rhythmstick"
1990 - Randy Brecker "Toe to Toe" (producer,
1990 - Vince Mendoza "Start Here"
1990 - Bob Berg "In the Shadows"
1990 - Chuck Loeb "Life Colors"
1990 - Michael Brecker "Now You See It..." (composer
1990 - Wayne Krantz "Signals"
1991 - Jim Beard "Song of the Sun"
1991 - Mike Stern "Odds of Evens" (producer,
1991 - Music on the Edge "Chroma" (producer,
1991 - Eliane Elias "A Long Story" (producer)
1991 - Dieter Ilg "Summerhill"
1991 - Bob Berg "Back Roads" (producer, player)
1992 - Dennis Chambers "Getting Even" (producer,
1992 - Ralph Bowen "Movin' On"
1993 - Jon Herington "The Complete Rhyming
Dictionary" (producer, player)
1993 - Bob Berg "Enter the Spirit" (producer,
1993 - Pat Metheny "Secret Story" Video in Japan
1993 - Bob Berg "Virtual Reality" (producer,
1994 - Mike Stern "Is What It Is" (producer,
player) Grammy nomination
1994 - Claude Nugaro "Chansongs"
1994 - Toninho Horta "Foot on the Road"
1994 - Bob Berg "Riddles" (producer, player,
1995 - Martin Tang "Tinman"
1995 - Didier Lockwood "New York Rendevou"
1995 - Capitol Records "Jazz to the World"
1995 - John McLaughlin "The Promise"
1996 - Mike Stern "Between the Lines" (producer
player) Grammy nomination
1996 - Bill Evans "Escape" (producer, player,
1996 - V.A. "World Christmas" (producer, player)
1997 - Michel Cloutier "Influences" (producer,
1997 - Bill Evans "Starfish and the Moon"
(producer, player, composer) ESC Records
1997 - John McLaughlin "The Heart of Things"
1998 - Michael "Patches" Stewart "Penetration"
(producer, player, composer)
1999 - Bill Evans "Touch" (ESC Records)
1999 - Victor Bailey "Lowblow"
Biography courtesy of ESC