Artist of the day: Preston Beebe
Do you know Preston Beebe? Chances are you may have seen him at one venue or another, performing one genre or another. This composer/performer/freelance musician for hire is in constant motion, with his toes dipped in many musical pools.
On top of teaching private lessons in percussion, composition, piano, and guitar, he also performs with Carlos Anduja in the ambient folk group When Tides Collide, and in the loungey beach jazz act Philip Pietri and the Manatees. He is also known for his endeavors as a solo artist. He single-handedly creates unique, lush soundscapes in real time by electronically altering vibraphone, percussion, music box, and toy piano.
Beebe began playing his parent’s piano by ear at around age 8. Clarinet lessons soon followed. In seventh grade he began playing drums and taking lessons, and in high school his participation in a drumline piqued his interest in other instruments in the percussion ensemble.
Upon graduation, he enrolled at USF and began studying music education, but was destined for another path. What he learned, heard, and experienced in his Introduction To Electronic Music class altered his course. He says the class “changed my ears toward sound, never knowing anything like that was possible.”
His newfound love of electronic sound synthesis and the construction thereof led him to question his musical direction. He decided to follow his instincts, ditched music ed, and pursued three majors: composition, electronic music, and percussion performance. This crapshoot paid off: Beebe successfully earned all three degrees.
Since graduation, he has spent his time applying to grad schools (he was recently accepted to McGill University in Montreal, and will be pursuing a Masters in Compostition), and working on a self recorded/produced CD entitled Glisten. The album focuses on his electro-acoustic compositions, beginning with his earliest pieces through the present.
Beebe draws from a deep wellspring of influences, including Tony Williams, Berio, Ravel, Paul Reller, Anathallo, Miles Davis’ Nefertiti, Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch, and Evan Parker’s electro-acoustic ensemble.
These influences are most apparent in Beebe’s latest project (yes, he has another project). He has assembled an all-star group of local luminaries — Jeremy Powell on sax and electronics, LaRue Nickelson on guitar, Jon Shea on bass and electronics and Paul Keesling on vibraphone and percussion — who perform as The Preston Beebe Electro-Acoustic Ensemble.
Beebe picked “like-minded” musicians who he considers the best jazz performers who also have an understanding of experimental and electronic music. The group focus on metric modulation, texture, electronically manipulated instruments, and improvisational elements of free jazz.
The Preston Beebe Electro-Acoustic Ensemble will release Glisten with a show at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Hideaway Cafe, 1756 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $10; first 25 people will receive a free copy of the CD. Click here for details.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*