An Encore for Perry Beekman
Story by Erin Wyble Newcomb
Photo: David Aday
Perry Beekman is making musical history. Drawing deeply from the wells of traditional jazz and “The Great American Songbook,” Beekman says he finds “an unending source of inspiration. There are countless instrumentalists, vocalists, composers and lyricists that make me want to wake up every day and become a better singer, player and performer. I love working at my craft.” His respect for “American Standards” shines through his music, and our interview returned again and again to the artistic history of the Hudson Valley. As I thought about his remarks on the life of a jazz musician in Woodstock and listened to tracks of his smooth vocals and rich melodies, it felt like the convergence of a robust tradition with Beekman’s silky signature style.
At the age of 15, Beekman “was blown away” upon hearing “the great jazz guitarist Charlie Christian.” Hearing Billie Holiday and Lester Young later made him realize he wanted to play jazz guitar and sing. As Beekman says, “There are relatively few singing jazz guitarists in the history of jazz, but I love doing both.” And, indeed, he performs with a smiling ease that made me surprised to learn of his unusual position. For “25 wonderful years,” Beekman played clubs and events in Manhattan.