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Rufus Reid: Quiet Pride

Dan Bilawsky By

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The beauty of art is often in the taking rather than the making. The art may come to life in the mind of the artist but it often flourishes when the ink dries, the chisel is withdrawn, the dust has settled, or the final brushstrokes have been applied. At that point, the preparation ends and the consumption begins. Creation then begins to fuel creation and a closed inspiration loop is born. This project is the perfect representation of that ideal.

Bassist Rufus Reid's most ambitious project to date was born out of his love for the sculptures of Elizabeth Catlett, a talented African American artist and civil rights activist. Catlett's work triggered something deep within Reid's being so he yearned to capture or reflect the meaning of her sculptures through music.

The four-movement suite that he came up with, delivered by an augmented big band, won the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Composition Competition Prize and was premiered in 2006; later on, Reid added a fifth movement—"Tapestry In The Sky." Since completion, the expanded version of the suite has been performed as part of a multi-media presentation at several colleges, with Catlett's work and the documentary Betty And Pancho, which focuses on the life of Catlett and her husband, being shown in tandem.

The suite itself, when taken as a whole, is a study of contrasts. Refined and noble thoughts, earthy episodes, weighty-and-ominous suggestions, and graceful notions all take hold at one time or another. Plenty of high-powered players get to step into the spotlight, but the real magic has less to do with the individual personalities than with the way Reid stitches this music together. Sure, much can be said about the stinging guitar work of Vic Juris, the mutable and mesmerizing vocals of Charenee Wade, the beyond-category trumpet work of Ingrid Jensen, and the contributions of numerous others, but better to focus on the work itself.

In this music, chamber-esque civility can give way to a feeling of uncertainty which, in turn, can morph into swing. Focus shifts from the textural to the rhythmic, the background to the foreground, and the subtle to the obvious. The music is mutable and multifaceted but that's not really surprising; sculptures can take on different meaning when viewed from different angles so the music should certainly do the same.

Quiet Pride speaks with dignity, class, curiosity, and ingenuity. It stands tall and speaks volumes about the passion that art can bring to art.

Track Listing: Prelude To Recognition; Recognition; Mother And Child; Tepstry In The Sky; Singing Head; Glory.

Personnel: Rufus Reid: bass; Steve Allee: piano; Herlin RIley: drums; Vic Juris: guitar; Dennis Mackrel: conductor; Tanya Darby: trumpet; Tim Hagans: trumpet; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet; Freddie Hendrix: trumpet; Michael Dease: trombone; Jason Jackson: trombone; Ryan Keberle: trombone; Dave Taylor: trombone; John Clark: French horn; Vincent Chancey: French horn; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet; Erica Von Kleist: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet; Scott Robinson: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Tom Christensen: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Carl Maraghi: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Charenee Wade: vocals.

Title: Quiet Pride | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Motema Music

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