Home » Jazz Musicians » Nat Reeves

Nat Reeves

During the past 40 years, Nat Reeves has been one of the top bassists in jazz. His supportive and stimulating playing has uplifted a countless number of sessions and recording dates (most notably with the great altoists Jackie McLean and Kenny Garrett) and he has led his own CD State of Emergency. Both as a performer and an educator, he has made a strong impact on the jazz world.

Nat Reeves was born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia. “My grandfather played the banjo, mandolin and guitar. One day I picked up his guitar and started playing the bass part. He noticed and, for my 16th birthday, he bought me an electric bass.” Nat had grown up hearing bluegrass, rock and soul records but did not get an opportunity to listen to jazz until he was already a bassist. “As a teenager, I listened closely to the radio, learning everything by ear. Originally I gravitated towards soul artists such as Marvin Gaye and the music of the time. In high school, I worked for a time with a band called the Dynatones. We learned all of the top 40 songs as soon as they came out. Whenever a new hit record was released, we would purchase the recording, go in the basement, put it on the turntable, and learn the song. Quite often the same day we would play the song for dances.”

Nat admired Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius and all of the top electric bassists of the time, being interested in all of the styles. “As a bassist it is my function to concentrate on the foundation of the band and make everybody else sound good. To become a better bass player and learn more about the instrument, I started listening to jazz. In jazz there is much more freedom to create one’s own bass part and to develop my own bass sound. It is my job to always learn and not merely play the bass but be a bass player, projecting more than just my notes and always sounding fresh and alive.”

When he was 22 and living in Richmond, Virginia, Nat joined a band led by trumpeter Tom Mitchell and guitarist Randy Johnston. Johnny Coles, trumpeter for Ray Charles who frequently sat in with the band, convinced Nat to switch to acoustic bass. Without taking a lesson, Nat taught himself the new instrument and quickly developed his own individual voice.

In 1979, Nat Reeves moved to New York City. “I listened, played on the streets, listened some more, and learned. It was at the same time that Kenny Garrett, Mulgrew Miller, Tony Reedus and James Williams also came to New York. We were all friends and played together.” He first toured with Sonny Stitt in 1982 during what would be the great saxophonist’s last tour. That year he met Jackie McLean, who became his mentor.

Read more

Tags

37
Album Review

Ron Blake: Mistaken Identity

Read "Mistaken Identity" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Once hailed as a promising young lion, Puerto Rico-born saxophonist Ron Blake is more a crafty old fox these days, bringing his wealth of experience and undeniable talent to bear on Mistaken Identity, his first album as leader in fifteen years. To assure a broad comfort zone, Blake invited guitarist Bobby Broom, a longtime friend and music partner, to join him alongside drummer Kobie Watkins and bassists Nat Reeves (five numbers) and Reuben Rogers (four). Among the ...

6
Liner Notes

Anthony Wonsey: The Thang

Read "Anthony Wonsey: The Thang" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan


Wisdom, it is often said, comes with age and experience. This axiom has special relevance for those who pursue excellence in the arts. Whether painters, dancers, or composers, the true creators have found that it takes time and patience to develop a singular voice. Youth seems to bring with it a desire to put technique at the fore, but those with more experience know that true originality starts when an artist utilizes his abilities to channel the spirit of the ...

3
Live Review

Jazz At The Joint: Nat Reeves

Read "Jazz At The Joint: Nat Reeves" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey


Nat Reeves Jazz At The Joint North Little Rock, AR April 11, 2021 The April 2022 edition of Ted Ludwig's “Jazz At The Joint" welcomed Hartford, Connecticut-centered bassist Nat Reeves to The Joint's stage in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Reeves has spent the last 40 years performing and recording with the likes of Jim Snidero, Harold Mabern, Steve Davis, Eric Alexander, Joe Farnsworth. These are just some of the contemporary guys with whom Reeves has ...

226
Album Review

Anthony Wonsey: The Thang

Read "The Thang" reviewed by Mark F. Turner


Anthony Wonsey's latest disc finds the pianist coming into his own creative voice. Wonsey has been at the center of some very notable works over the past few years, including recordings by trumpeter Nicholas Payton, songstress Carmen Lundy and others. The Thang, his fifth disc as a leader, continues in the straight-ahead format of his label, Sharp Nine Records. While others artists his age are dabbling in freer modes, make no mistake that Wonsey is a skilled artisan who plays ...

Read more articles

Photos

Concerts

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Mistaken Identity

7tēn33 Productions
2023

buy

You Are There

Whaling City Sound
2021

buy

The Thang

Sharp Nine Records
2006

buy

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.