Rufus Reid

In this follow-up video interview,  jazz bass superhero talks to FBPO about the Elizabeth Catlett compositions and the “A list” of musicians involved

Exclusive interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
September 30, 2013

Veteran jazz icon Rufus Reid is an internationally acclaimed bassist, composer and educator. In addition to having appeared on hundreds of recordings, Reid has conducted countless clinics and workshops throughout the world. His book and DVD, The Evolving Bassist, is recognized as the industry the definitive bass method and industry standard.

Rufus has received numerous grants and fellowships over the years from several prestigious organizations, including the Doris Duke Foundation, ASCAP and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.  He is also the recipient of the Raymond Sackler Composition Commission prize.  FBPO’s Jon Liebman caught up with Rufus at the 2013 convention of the International Society of Bassists at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.

FBPO: It’s been a few years since we did your first interview, so bring us up to date. What’s been happening?

RR: Well, I’m doing a lot of writing, composing, and it’s been very exciting. I’m still playing a lot, trying to find those right notes, you know! But the writing has been going very well. I just premiered two concert band pieces.

The biggest thing I’ve been involved with is a big band recording of all original music that was inspired by the sculptures of Afro-American sculptress Elizabeth Catlett, who just passed last year. She would have been 97. I got a commission from the Raymond & Beverly Sackler Composition Commission and I proposed to write music that was inspired by these sculptures. It’s a five-movement piece and I just had it recorded in New York with a stellar, hand-picked band. The CD, called Quiet Pride, will be on the market in Feburary.

FBPO: Anybody in that stellar, hand-picked band whose names we might recognize?

RR: We’ve got Charenee Wade on vocals; Tanya Darby, Ingrid Jensen, Tim Hagans and Freddie Hendrix on trumpet; Michael Dease, Ryan Keberle, Jason Jackson and Dave Taylor on trombone; and Steve Wilson, Erica von Kleist, Scott Robinson, Tom Christensen and Carl Maraghi on saxophone. The rhythm section is Steve Allee on piano, Herlin Riley on drums, Vic Juris on guitar and me on bass.

They all brought their “A” game. It was incredible! So, I’m on a high right now. Nobody else has heard it yet and it’s not for public consumption. We’re working on the booklet now and all the graphics. I know you know what I’m talking about, Jon, all the steps one has to take before it actually hits the public! So, it’s very exciting and I can’t wait. The great journalist Bob Blumenthal wrote some wonderful liner notes, too.

So that’s the most exciting thing happening. Then, by and large, the masses will know that I’m writing to this degree because it really sounds good. I find myself saying, “Wow, did I really write that?!” It was really that much fun!

FBPO: You be sure to keep us posted as that unfolds.

RR: Oh, you’ll be hearing a lot about it!

FBPO: What else is going on?

RR: The biggest thing right now is a quartet of four basses, performing here at the International Society of Bassists conference. It’s Lynn Seaton, John Clayton, Martin Wind and me. And it’s really exciting! We had a great rehearsal yesterday, so it’s going to be fun. Even if the audience doesn’t like it, we’re going to have a good time! [Laughs]

FBPO: What else is on the horizon? You’ve already done so much. What else is percolating up in your brain? 

RR: I’m working on a string quartet with my trio, trying to step out of my own box, my comfort zone, so to speak. But the writing and the playing have really become more meshed together.

FBPO: Who’s in your trio these days?

RR: Steve Allee, playing piano, and a wonderful Brazilian drummer, who’s actually been in the United States for a long time, Duduka Da Fonseca. We’ve been playing together on my last three albums on Motéma. The Out Front Trio, we call it now. The latest CD is called Hues of a Different Blue.

FBPO: I’ve heard it. It’s wonderful!

RR: Thank you.

FBPO: Rufus, it’s great catching up with you and we look forward to lots more great music — writing, playing and everything else you do. Keep doing what you’re doing!

RR: Thank you so much and congratulations to you, Jon, on all your endeavors and keeping people who are even just getting started on the bass in a good way.

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