Rufus Reid Quintet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Rufus Reid Quintet


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In the early 60s Scott LaFaro raised the bar for jazz bass with lines so nimble they seemed better suited to a horn, but most players who've aspired to match his speed have had to sacrifice tone to get it: the sheer size of the instrument makes it especially difficult to shape each note fully if you're dusting the strings en route to the next one. Rufus Reid is one of those rare few who can have it both ways. With a tone that's strong as buckshot and supple as twine and a well-balanced rhythmic sense, he's been one of the most accomplished and admired bass players in the mainstream jazz tradition since he graduated from Northwestern University in 1971. During his postgrad years in Chicago, Reid played regularly in the house trios at the Jazz Showcase, which let him prove his mettle to visiting headliners, and after he moved to New York in '76 his work with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra raised his profile another notch. Since then, on more than 250 recordings, he's evolved as a soulful soloist and sideman and a terrific bandleader. Reid's made several solid discs with a group co-led by drummer Akira Tana and stepped out with his own quintets--including this one, which also appears on his 2003 disc, The Gait Keeper (Sunnyside). The group, which includes outstanding but under-recorded New Yorkers like tenor saxist Rich Perry and pianist John Stetch, will hold court at the Showcase through Halloween. Tuesday 26, 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20. See also Wednesday and Thursday.

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