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Rufus Reid Trio: Half Moon Bay, CA, November 7, 2010

Bill Leikam By

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Rufus Reid Trio
Douglas Beach House
Half Moon Bay, CA
November 7, 2010

The anticipation of having multi-award winner Rufus Reid working the strings of his bass, and his band members—pianist Steve Allee and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca—ran high, as the audience at the Douglas Beach House began to gather. The trio was on a west coast tour beginning in Edmonton, Canada and Seattle, and moving down the west coast to San Diego. On the way, the trio stopped off at the Douglas Beach House. Venue owner Pete Douglas was more than happy to have Reid back, as it had been 15 years since he had last stepped into the beach house. As the trio took the stage, the sophisticated audience went wild with a welcoming applaud.

The first set was primarily drawn from Reid's Out Front (Motéma, 2010), though one composition came from an album to be released in April, 2011. The concert opened with the Allee's "Ebony," which warmed the audience with its mellow power, and established a bond with the trio. By its end, the stage was clearly set for an evening of some of the most remarkable bass playing heard in a long time at the beach house. Fonseca's "Doña Maria" opened with all three musicians firmly locked into the piece and Reid's bass taking the lead; it becoming obvious that Reid could turn on a dime, as he changed both tempo and direction. Reid's smiles and approving nods communicated his pleasure with both the composition and his musicians. As the piece progressed, Allee's piano took the top, holding it together as Reid kept the rhythm pushing full speed ahead.

On by Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now," Reid stretched out as the lead instrument throughout, making his bass "talk," as though it spoke lyrics, something highly unusual within the realm of bass players. As a master of the bass, Reid did things rarely heard on his instrument.

If Reid is to be stylistically pigeon-holed, then he is certainly the foremost lyrical bassist alive today. This was demonstrated by Reid's own "Caress the Thought," as his bowed bass opened with staccato strokes that transformed into an almost cello-like melody, gradually rising in a surging crescendo that suddenly came to an abrupt halt. Allee and Fonseca picked it up and jammed off of each other until Reid returned through the underbelly of the tune with a repetitive rhythm, until the three of them danced and played off of one another in a raucous interplay of piano, drums and bass, with Fonseca's cymbals closing the number.

The lyricism, power and the delicacy of the Rufus Reid Trio continued throughout each and every piece played that day and into the evening, as the sun sank into the Pacific. Most of the time a bass lurks in the background unless it is taking a solo, but not when Reid is playing it. When all was said and done, the audience rose to its feet with appaluse equal to some of the intense crescendos heard earlier in the evening, with several calls for an encore. Reid mesmerized everyone with a solo rendition of Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," with the audience snapping its fingers in time with his bass. It was the perfect way to end a grand concert as only a master jazz musician can present.

After the show, while Reid signed copies of his album Out Front, people chatted with one another on the way out, discussing how much they had enjoyed the concert and, in one case, how much it meant to be there. The Rufus Reid Trio is, without a doubt, bringing some of the most impressive and powerful jazz anywhere to audiences across the country. Don't miss this trio if it's performing nearby.

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