An accomplished sideman, a visionary educator, and a composer of note, bassist Rufus Reid possesses one of the richest and most generous tones in jazz today. As an artist, Rufus Reid defines evolution and growth. On the double bass, he seems to have reached the pinnacle of mastery on his instrument only to push the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic envelope further each time you hear him.
“As a leader, he knows just how to pace a program to satisfy an audience and musicians. He reaches out and touches people – his playing is infectious. The fun starts with him on the bandstand and spills over to the audience,” noted Billy Taylor, describing Rufus Reid. As an improviser, Reid is certainly a genius. His long-standing band with drummer Akira Tana, TanaReid, was one of the most exciting post-bop bands of the 90s, and amazingly, Reid has only improved since.
Quiet Pride – The Elizabeth Catlett Project was released in 2014 to critical acclaim by Motéma Music. Quiet Pride is a masterwork composed, arranged and conducted by Rufus Reid for a 20-piece orchestra. This CD received two nominations for the 57th GRAMMY Awards ~ Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Instrumental Composition for ‘Recognition’ the first movement of this suite. This five-movement suite honors five iconic sculptures by Elizabeth Catlett, a revered multi-media artist, human rights activist, and African-American heroine of the highest order, whose work is featured in museums and public places around the country. This magnicifent work is the culmination of The Beverly and Dr. Raymond Sackler Composition Commission Rufus received in 2006. “My purpose in recording Quiet Pride – The Elizabeth Catlett Project was to create a definitive, professional recording, for people who love art and who love music. It will also be an excellent educational tool as I continue my residencies and performances at colleges and universities internationally. Quiet Pride has enriched my life about what I do and why I do it.”
Reid’s 2011 Motema CD Hues of a Different Blue is powerful and refreshing. In addition to The Out Front Trio with Rufus Reid, Steve Allee and Duduka Da Fonseca, Hues of a Different Blue employs the substantial talents of another Brazilian, guitarist Toninho Horta, veteran alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, rising trumpeter Freddie Hendrix and the gifted J.D. Allen. Reid says, “In designing these arrangements, my goal was to feature the unique sound of the trio and the unique voice of each guest, in unexpected ways that would offer a new musical experience for each player, and an exciting new surprise for you as well.” In doing so, Reid has created an album of music that can best be described with one word, unforgettable; clearly for the musicians, but most importantly, for the listeners.
Released by Motéma Music in March of 2010, Out Front is a celebration of the trio’s terrific chemistry and the immense joy shared between the musicians and their audience. Inspiration fills every crevice of the music, and the band sounds all too happy to stretch “far beyond the bebop boundaries,” as Reid observes in his liner notes. Reid is a democratic leader, and Allee and Da Fonseca respond to Reid’s music with some of their finest individual performances. Reid knows when to grab the spotlight, though, as in his powerful bass solo improvisations: Reid may be one of the few who can command extended attention in the form. When asked about Rufus, John Pattituci’s eyes began to dance. “Rufus is a sage – kind, very gifted and wise. He helped me set my priorities about what it means to be a jazz bassist and my role as a foundational / compositional force in the music. As a jazz master, more people should be exposed to him as the artist, personality and entertainer that he is. He’s eloquent, witty, charming and a great ambassador for the art form. Even if they know nothing about jazz, people are captivated by the natural, engaging way he presents himself and the music.”
Reid’s professional career began in Chicago and continued outward to embrace the world. Having been the bassist of choice for dozens of major artists, including Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Nancy Wilson, Eddie Harris, Art Farmer, and many others, Reid has now taken the lead. He is one of today’s premiere bassists on the international jazz scene. His reviews garner remarks like, “mesmerizing.”
Once you finish listening to Quiet Pride the first time, you’ll definitely want to loop back to the beginning. This is definitely a recording that makes you think, a hallmark of all good art.
Maria Miaoulis, The Celebrity Café
A monumental and inspiring work from an improvisational giant…Stunning! [Quiet Pride] Brent Black, Critical Jazz
Here [Quiet Pride], Reid’s music is realized by 20 musicians, most of them, such as drummer Herlin Riley, standard-bearing players. Yet it’s his own voice as composer-as distinctive as the one he projected as a bassist-that makes grand statements out of mostly subtle gestures.
Larry Blumenfeld, Blu Notes
A little extra attention is merited by Rufus Reid’s “Out Front” Quintet, featuring well-known local pianist-bandleader Steve Allee at the keyboard. Reid’s acoustic bass had a warm, enveloping sound, which he pours out generously as the band’s harmonic foundation and in such solos as the one that was threaded throughout “If You Could See Me Now.” The set concluded with Reid’s lively “Glory,” and its performance reflected that quality upon the whole band. (Indy Jazz Fest)
Jay Harvey, The Indianapolis Star
Rufus Reid on upright bass playing with Indianapolis’ own Steve Allee was mesmerizing.
Indianapolis Business Journal
If Reid is to be stylistically pigeon-holed, then he is certainly the foremost lyrical bassist alive today. The lyricism, power and the delicacy of the Rufus Reid Trio continued throughout each and every piece played that day and into the evening, as the sun sank into the Pacific. Most of the time a bass lurks in the background unless it is taking a solo, but not when Reid is playing it. When all was said and done, the audience rose to its feet with applause equal to some of the intense crescendos heard earlier in the evening, with several calls for an encore. Reid mesmerized everyone with a solo rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” with the audience snapping its fingers in time with his bass. It was the perfect way to end a grand concert as only a master jazz musician can present.
Bill Leikam: All About Jazz
“Reid’s engagement leading his own group Tuesday night at the Jazz Showcase offered a rare opportunity to hear a formidable artist stepping to the forefront. The performance proved immensely appealing, though in often surprising ways. Reid led this band in an evening of sleek, sumptuous, exquisitely understated ensemble playing.
Shrewdly, Reid has chosen collaborators well-equipped to articulate his aesthetic for this group. Each of the musicians in this organization took his cue from Reid, who sounded as radiantly lyrical on this occasion as this listener ever has heard him. In solo statements, Reid produced phrases so delicately drawn and subtly nuanced as to suggest the work of a soft-spoken vocalist singing to an audience of one.
In Reid’s new composition, “Come Out and Play,” the rhythm players achieved a cohesiveness one doesn’t regularly encounter.”
Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune