Jeff's Story...

Jeff Beal is a composer, performer, producer, improviser. He is a consummate musician. He writes music for film, the concert hall, CDs and television. This web page came about because Jeff wanted to have one place available to his listeners. A place to unite his many pursuits. One location where people could go to find out more about his jazz CDs, how to rent his orchestral music, learn about film scoring or just get in touch with him. I’ve known Jeff for over twenty years, now. Sharing a passion for music comes easily to this man, but getting him to talk about himself or promote himself doesn’t. I, however, have no problem talking about Jeff. Let me fill you in....

Jeff was born in 1963 in Hayward, CA, the East Bay area of San Francisco. His parents both grew up with music making in the home; naturally music was always present in their house. His mother studied piano as a child, and from an early age, Jeff enjoyed picking out tunes on the family’s upright piano. In the third grade, his father took him to a school assembly where students could listen to and select band instruments to borrow and study...(In those halcyon days before Prop. 13) Jeff sat through the assembly quietly, until the trumpet was demonstrated. “That’s it!” he told his father. “That’s what I want to play!”

Jeff began practicing and improving on the trumpet. He worked a paper route on his bicycle, mornings before school, to purchase his own trumpet. His father’s mother Irene had performed as a pianist on live radio broadcasts , and now lived in San Francisco. Not your average grandma, she was an artist, bohemian and an avid jazz fan; sitting in on Mile’s Live at the Black Hawk recording sessions. She gave Jeff a copy of Sketches of Spain as a gift when he was ten. He had never heard music like this before...Gil Evan’s emotive, expressive orchestrations, combined with Mile’s haunting trumpet. Jeff began to study jazz improvisation, theory, and harmony on his own, later taking classes at a local college. He immersed himself in jazz recordings and transcribed the solos of Woody Shaw, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Chet Baker and Miles...eventually writing his own jazz charts and performing them with the Monterey Jazz All Stars. Jeff also played in the Oakland Youth Symphony, conducted by Kent Nagano, and at 16 wrote an orchestral jazz trumpet concerto for that group. At night after school, Jeff would ride BART across the bay to San Francisco; sitting in at jam sessions led by musicians twice his age... listening, playing, and learning.

Going to the Eastman School of Music was an opportunity for Jeff to continue his trumpet studies and to formally study composition. As an undergraduate, he took all of his double major classes, along with the classes offered to the master’s students in the jazz department. His spare moments were spent gigging with jazz professors and writing, writing, writing more music in the piano lab. Jeff was known to hide under the synclavier in the computer music lab, until the night watchman had passed, so that he could spend his nights undisturbed, writing and producing his own music.

These synclavier demos lead to Jeff’s first solo album, Liberation; released in 1987. Now a conservatory graduate, living in New York City and working as a gigging musician, Jeff was signed by the Antilles division of Island Records. He played more dates with his own group, and began working on the music for a second album, when a move to San Francisco (for his wife’s career) lead to scoring work. Jeff’s first film score, Cheap Shots, was produced in a home studio in the tiny office of a rented home. Jeff soon was working as a ghost writer and arranger for other composers, always longing to be the guy with the gig and the credit.

Moving to Los Angeles in 1992 provided Jeff with more opportunities and relationships. He continued making solo CDs, performing with his own jazz ensemble, and also contributed compositions to friend’s CD projects, like his Bass Concerto, written for John Patitucci and recorded at the request of Chick Corea. The opportunity to create an orchestral jazz trumpet concerto, a lifelong dream from the Sketches of Spain days, was realized when childhood friend and conductor Kent Nagano approached Jeff to write a piece for the Berkeley Symphony. The end result, Alternate Route, is a signature piece for Jeff, representing a union of his love for orchestral and improvised music.

More opportunities for scoring came about as Jeff became known around town as the eclectic, classically trained, improvising, computer savvy composer. His scores ran the gamut from the earthy world music of Guy, to the ethereal music of Nothing Sacred, to the jazz inspired score to The Passion of Ayn Rand. It was in 2000 that Jeff’s most monumental opportunity presented itself. Jeff has heard that Ed Harris was producing, directing and starring in a biographical film about artist Jackson Pollock, and his agent had submitted his music for this independent film. Learning that another composer had been selected, Jeff tried to forget about the project, but it was difficult to dismiss. When he heard that Ed Harris was once again looking for a composer, he tried not to get his hopes up. What Jeff didn’t know was that Ed Harris had already fired two composers, and kept returning to Jeff’s submitted CD of cues. When Ed finally called Jeff personally to ask him to meet on Pollock, Ed admitted he didn’t know who Jeff was...he had lost his sheet of credits, and only had that one CD. The one CD he kept playing over and over. Jeff and Ed met and spotted Pollock that same day. They had an instant rapport. Ed spoke later of Jeff’s immediate understanding of the film and his ability to translate that into musical ideas. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jeff Beal now finds himself happily living the life he has always imagined for himself. Composing music, collaborating with creative individuals, traveling, playing trumpet, riding his bike, and living a rather peaceful, reclusive life with his family in the rural outskirts of Los Angeles.
We hope that you enjoy browsing this site, listening to the music and learning more about this immensely talented individual. Please contact Jeff with any questions or comments on the Contact page.
Thanks for visiting,

Joan Beal