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Mike Reed’s Flesh & Bone puts skin on some bad memories

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From its inception, drummer-composer Mike Reed’s quartet People, Places & Things has served as both a vehicle for exploring memories and a platform for collaborations. He continues on both fronts with Flesh & Bone, a new record based on a program Reed presented as part of the Art Institute of Chicago’s “Extensions Out” series in 2015. On Flesh & Bone, the core PPT quartet of Reed, bassist Jason Roebke, and saxophonists Tim Haldeman and Greg Ward is joined by bass clarinetist Jason Stein, cornetist Ben LaMar Gay, and vocalist Marvin Tate for a sequence of tunes and texts inspired by the day in 2009 when the racially integrated combo wound up in the midst of a neo-Nazi rally while waiting for a train in the small town of Přerov, Czech Republic. Though local cops extricated them from the area being teargassed, their face-to-face encounter with violent racism abroad has gained more resonance in light of the rise of racial intolerance and bullyboy populism at home. But if the circumstances that Tate considers in his dismayed readings are dire, the music is not: it fuses Roscoe Mitchell’s pungent angularity, Sun Ra’s space blues, and Duke Ellington’s swooning romance into expressions of hope and resilience.   v

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