Reid Anderson is one of the best composers and bandleaders in New York. The young bassist is part of a close-knit group of players that includes Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ethan Iverson, and Mark Turner. With two superb quartet albums to his credit, 1998’s Dirty Show Tunes and 1999’s Abolish Bad Architecture (both on the Fresh Sound New Talent label), Anderson has put himself on the map as a serious jazz talent. The Vastness of Space, forthcoming from FSNT for the fall of 2000, will feature a new quintet with Ben Monder on guitar, Marlon Browden on drums, Andrew D’Angelo on alto, and Bill McHenry on tenor. Thankfully, this lineup has not restricted its activities to the recording studio. They tore it up live last week at the C-Note, deep within Alphabet City on New York’s Lower East Side. This is a band that plays its heart out on every tune. McHenry and D’Angelo are a visually inspiring frontline — horns held high, eyes closed, eyebrows raised in passionate expression as they flawlessly articulate Anderson’s soaring melodies. Monder fills out the harmonic landscape and solos like a fiend. Anderson and Browden provide a rhythmic elasticity that makes the whole band seem to float on air. Anderson’s compositions are ingenious enough to make you laugh out loud. The driving, rock-like rhythms of "The Enthusiast" and "The Owl," the tender harmonies of "Melismatic Clouds of Joy" and "Foxy," the free (yet tonal) structures of "Space Station" and "Silence Is the Question," the shredding fury of "Epic": all exemplify a stylistic refinement that is simply thrilling. Keep an eye out for The Vastness of Space later this year, for Reid Anderson’s band richly deserves to be heard, its brilliance recognized.
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