John Beasley has a very big musical mind.

The Grammy- and Emmy-nominated pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader has worked with Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Steely Dan and Dianne Reeves, composed extensively for film and television, and has served as musical director for Herbie Hancock on International Jazz Day. Through it all, Beasley is creating some of the most dynamic and innovative music heard today.

Beasley’s 15-piece MONK’estra has shown the vibrancy and relevance of Thelonious Monk’s music in the 21st century. The big band’s first two albums earned Grammy nominations.

Their latest record finds the same incredible group playing the music of John Beasley himself, along with some Ellington, Bird and Monk tunes thrown in there for good measure. MONK’estra Plays John Beasley brings Beasley’s brilliance to life with the band’s bold, courageous and experimental spirit.

On this latest album, Beasley also brought several of his peers and mentors into the fold, including bassist John Patitucci and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, his one-time bandmates; organ great Joey DeFrancesco, whose footsteps Beasley followed into the Miles Davis band in 1989; and legendary flautist Hubert Laws, who hired Beasley and Patitucci to play Carnegie Hall when they were just 20 years old.

Beasley joined us over the phone to talk about the new album, and how the fearlessness of Thelonious Monk drives his creativity.