Long a first-call bassist, Rufus Reid has played with numerous greats since arriving on the jazz scene in the early '70s, including Dizzy Gillespie, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Dexter Gordon, Lee Konitz, Art Farmer and Jimmy Heath, to name just a few, in addition to a number of dates as a leader. His fat tone and inventive lines add something to every record date and he is a capable composer and arranger as well.
Out Front is Reid's ninth album as a leader but the bassist makes it clear in both the liner notes and the video group interview (a bonus MP4 file) that the music is a group effort rather than that of leader and sidemen. His accompanists are also top-shelf musicians. Pianist Steve Allee has been on the jazz scene for several decades, though he has only been getting wider exposure in recent years as a leader. Duduka Da Fonseca is known primarily for his brilliant Brazilian percussion as a member of Trio Da Paz and the numerous record dates in which he has taken part; on this occasion, he uses a full drumkit in a straight-ahead setting.
All three men contributed originals to the date. Da Fonseca's "Doña Maria" is an infectious blend of Brazilian rhythm and post-bop, with the former utilized to introduce the theme and to back Reid's solo and the latter as the main body of the arrangement. Reid's lush ballad "Reminiscing" opens with unaccompanied piano, becoming a shimmering waltz with the addition of bass and brushes. The leader's "Caress the Thought" is a multifaceted mini-suite, taking the listener through many moods. Allee's "Ebony" is a tribute to Elvin Jones, a jaunty, strutting vehicle that recalls the late drummer's musical personality.
The trio also explores several well-known compositions, highlighted by their thoughtful setting of Tadd Dameron's beautiful "If You Could See Me Now." The bonus group interview complements Reid's liner notes and allows each player to discuss the inspiration to his compositions and how they evolved.
Glory; Doña Maria; Reminiscing; Ebony; Caress The Thought; Dry Land; The Rise of the Row;
If You Could See Me Now; Cryin' Blues.
Rufus Reid: bass; Steve Allee: piano; Duduka Da Fonseca: drums.