With his third Heads Up release, Free Your Mind, saxophonist/vocalist/educator Walter Beasley attempts to make sense of recent emotionally charged events – some global, some personal – that have changed his perspective on his own life in particular and the human experience in general.
“All I wanted to do with this record was accurately reflect the times and how I felt about them,” says Beasley. Standout tracks include “Barack’s Groove,” a cool and self-assured piece underscored by an African rhythm (as the title suggests, it’s a tribute to the equally cool and self-assured president-elect); “DukeZillia,” a nod to jazz and R&B legend George Duke; and the poignant “Miss Minnie,” written for Minnie Dangerfield, a close friend of Beasley’s family and an important influence on the artist’s life. In addition to Beasley’s own compositions, Free Your Mind also includes the work of a number of guest songwriters, including Kem L. Owen and Pieces of a Dream keyboardist James Lloyd, who pens five of the album’s 11 tracks.
For Beasley, the making of Free Your Mind was a learning experience, not just musically but also emotionally – perhaps even spiritually. “This is a more mature piece of work than anything else I’ve ever recorded,” he says. “I’ve done some growing up, and this album is a reflection of that process. You get to a point in your life where you realize that music is not everything. It usually happens when you start losing people who have been close to you for years and years. That’s a wake-up call. Now I appreciate every breath I take, and every relationship I’m in. I appreciate all the things I did right in my life, and I appreciate all the things I did wrong too. I want all those things to be a part of the legacy of my music. That legacy is something I’m not going to compromise.”