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StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Spotlight on Tomeka Reid


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This week, let's get acquainted via video with the Chicago-based cellist and composer Tomeka Reid, who will perform in a concert presented by New Music Circle next Friday, December 3 at Joe's Cafe.

Reid, who grew up in Maryland near Washington DC and is now in her late 30s, is an active participant in Chicago's busy jazz and improvised music scene, moving freely between various musical projects of her own and those led by others. She also has significant classical training, having earned music degrees at the University of Maryland, College Park and DePaul University, and currently is working on a doctor of music from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

In addition to leading several groups under her own name, Reid has worked with Dee Alexander's Evolution Ensemble, Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble/Strings, Mike Reed's Loose Assembly, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) Great Black Music Ensemble, and co-leads the string trio Hear in Now.

Reid's Artifacts Trio, the group she'll perform with here in St. Louis, takes its name from an album she recorded last year with flutist Nicole Mitchell and drummer Mike Reed. The three have known each other for 15 years, performing together in various combinations and all serving on the executive board of the AACM, so when Reid wanted to put together a program of music by composers associated with the AACM in conjunction with the organization's 50th anniversary, Mitchell and Reed were natural choices as collaborators.

Since the release of Artifacts, there's been a good deal of interest in the group, resulting in a number of festival dates overseas plus some one-off domestic gigs like the one they'll do in St. Louis. Unfortunately, none of those shows seem to have been captured on video and made available online yet.

So instead today, you can sample several recent performances by Reid in a variety of musical settings, starting up above and continuing after the jump with two excepts featuring what one might call an alternate version of the Artifacts Trio, with Reid, Mike Reed, and British pianist Alexander Hawkins, recorded in September at the Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival in England.

Below that, you can see two solo performances by Reid- one recorded in April at the Block Museum of Art, the other from a concert in July at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in which Reid combined composed and improvised materials in reaction to artist Fo Wilson’s installation “Eliza’s Peculiar Cabinet of Curiosities."

The fifth clip features Reid's String Ensemble performing her extended work “Tokens" in September at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival in Chicago, and the final videois an excerpt from a show by a quartet led by Reid, with bassist Silvia Bolognesi, vibraphonist Pasquale Mirra, and drummer Cristiano Calcagnile, recorded in September at a concert in Lafayette, IN.

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