Smitty: I am just totally ecstatic about my next guest joining me at JazzMonthly.com. He’s a master saxophonist, a great composer, producer, and a great educator of music. He’s got a great new record out. It’s called Ready for Love. Please welcome the incredible Heads Up recording artist Mr. Walter Beasley. Walter, how you doin’, my man?
Walter Beasley (WB): Oh man, I have all my family, I’m very, very, very blessed, and we’re basically too blessed to be stressed. (Both laugh.)
Smitty: I like that, man. You’ve created some new love on your latest project, you’re Ready for Love, and you’ve got some very cool tracks on here and some great players. talk about this next chapter of love with this new record.
WB: Well, For Her was all about for her. It was a record, but with this new record I just felt that it was time for me to do the kind of music that I felt that reflected who I was and just deeper, but songs that meant more to me, not only the older songs but some of the songs that I write and Ready for Love….I know it’s the best thing that I’ve ever done because what I tried to do was not synthesize it and try to not play more than it was absolutely necessary to say what was in my heart, say what was absolutely necessary to say what was in my heart, and write only the chords, only the melodies, that I felt were the appropriate ones for this type of record, and I’m very, very thankful that it’s being well received. It was No. 2 on the charts when it debuted and I’m very, very thankful that people are accepting it and loving it just as I did.
Smitty: Absolutely because we all are all about the love, you know?
WB: That’s it, that’s it.
Smitty: Yeah, man.
WB: Like you said before we started this interview, that we need more of it in our lives.
Smitty: Yes, we do. I’m so happy that you opened this chapter of love for everybody with this new record. You’ve got some great players on here too, man. I mean, you know, Lil’ John Roberts and….
WB: I’ve been telling Lil’ John Roberts forever that he should be doing more production, that his ears are one of the best pair of ears I’ve ever heard in my life. His ability to hear nuance and melody, harmony and rhythm is very, very uncanny,, I mean, for a drummer. Because this, to me, the instrument is a rhythmic instrument and finally I just said you know what? I’m just gonna push him into it. And he’s been producing, but I said, you know, he’s gonna do this for me, and he and Phil Davis partnered up and just created some great stuff with “Free” and “La Nina” and “Rhea’s Song”.
Smitty: Yeah. But, man, I can’t say enough about just those three songs that you just mentioned. I mean, they did some fantastic work. This is some groovin’ stuff!
WB: Yeah, yeah. What I did, I wrote the songs and I said you know what? These are beautiful songs. For the first time in my life I just gave ‘em to John. He said “Well, what do you think, Walter?” I said “John, I’m giving ‘em to you, you give them back done,” and that’s exactly what they did. “I don’t even care about the way you arrange them because I trust your ears, I trust your musicianship.” I mean, we played together several times so I know where he’s coming from, and when those songs came back they came back better than I could’ve ever expected.
Smitty: (Laughs.) But isn’t that a cool thing when you establish that kind of trust? And I think that is such a motivational vibe when someone has that kind of trust and confidence in you. I think it makes you reach higher and come back with something that’s above and beyond what you expected, you know?
WB: Very well said, very well said.
Smitty: Yeah, man. And I gotta tell you, man, I love “Be Thankful.”
WB: Yeah, that’s my baby there. (Laughs.)
Smitty: Man, that is a sweet track.
WB: Man, I have a couple of friends and one of whom is an African American woman and she was looking around and saying when she looks at CD’s that she very seldom finds anything that reflects who she’s about or what she’s been through or her issues, and she just feels like the world didn’t really respect or even care what happened to her, and I just felt like this was a song that hit me when I was going through similar times when I was a kid, and though some people around me were driving the Cadillacs and what is it? The Deuce and a quarter (Buick Electra 225), you know the cars, you know, those types of things.
Smitty: Yeah, man I haven’t heard that name in a long, long time. (laughs).
WB: You know what I’m talking about. And we were driving a Volkswagen. But when that song came out, it just really spoke to my heart. It said “You know what, young brother? The material things, that’s not what it’s about. Whatever you have, you’re building a foundation to create more, to build more.” And that’s how I took the song as a kid and I just felt like I wanted to do it over again and not really do it too complex or, like I said before, say things or do riffs that really didn’t mean anything, but just speak to the heart of the song and speak to need of my need and her need and others like us ‘cause we all the time feel like we’re the underdog, you know what I mean?
WB: So, I mean, this song kinda just peps me up….I listen to it about five or six times if I’m in a funk (both laugh) until I’m normal again.
Smitty: I don’t know if William DeVaughn knew how many people he touched with that song.
WB: Thank you!
WB: Thank you. It’s just a perfect song and it’s only one verse.
Smitty: You’re so right!
WB: It’s one verse. (Laughs.)
Smitty: Yup, and that’s all it took. With a nice melody, that’s all it took.
WB: That’s right.
Smitty: And that’s one song that will stand for a long time.
WB: Yes sir, yes sir.
Smitty: Absolutely. Okay, man, you gotta tell me about “Sugar Puddin’.” (Both laugh.)
WB: Well, when I was growing up, we used to spend the summers in the South and there was a term of endearment, Sugar Puddin’, and all that kind of stuff and it was a term of endearment, meaning that, you call somebody who you love that and that kind of thing.