Rufus Reid, Bassist
Rufus Reid, one of today's premiere bassists on the international jazz scene, with his reputation firmly established in the education arena, now adds composition to his vitae. For several years, Reid has been a participant in the BMI Jazz Composer's Workshop which has empowered him to move more deeply into the composing arena. He won the Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Award for his composition, "Skies Over Emilia." His composition, "Whims of the Blue Bird" is the result of this award's commission. This has led to further commissions. He is writing for string orchestra, jazz ensembles large and small, and double bass ensemble pieces.
Rufus Reid received a 2006 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to enable him to continue composing, and he received The ASCAP/IAJE Commission for Established Jazz Composers, which was premiered at the 2007 IAJE Conference in New York City. The 2006 Sackler Commission Prize was awarded to Rufus which allowed him to fulfill a dream he has had to compose a work dedicated to the artist, Elizabeth Catlett. Her life and work inspired in Rufus a desire to honor her and introduce her to people who might not know about her. This four movement work for Jazz Big Band, inspired by four of her sculptures, premiered at The University of Connecticut at Storrs and at Stamford in March, 2007.
Reid's book, The Evolving Bassist, published since 1974, continues to be recognized as the industry standard as the definitive bass method. As of January, 2000, the book is available in its millennium edition. Rufus Reid is equally known as an exceptional educator as well, teaching clinics since 1971, holding associations with Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, the Stanford University Jazz Workshop, and the Lake Placid Institute, to name a few. Reid was on the faculty of William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, as Full Professor and Director of the Jazz Studies and Performance program for twenty years completing his tenure in 1999.
Rufus Reid's major professional career began in Chicago and continues, since 1976, in New York City. Along with performing and recording with the remaining giants of jazz of today, he was privileged to share many musical moments with some that have passed on: Gene Ammons, Kenny Dorham, Eddie Harris, Sonny Stitt, Don Byas, Philly Joe Jones, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, and Art Farmer.
Born on February 10, 1944 in Atlanta, GA, Rufus Reid was raised in Sacramento, California where he played the trumpet through junior high and high school. Upon graduation from Sacramento High School, he entered the United States Air Force as a trumpet player. During that period he began to be seriously interested in the bass. After fulfilling his duties in the military, Rufus had decided he wanted to pursue a career as a professional bassist. He moved to Seattle, Washington, where he began serious study with James Harnett of the Seattle Symphony. He continued his education at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied with Warren Benfield and principal bassist, Joseph Guastefeste, both of the Chicago Symphony. He graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Music Degree as a Performance Major on the Double Bass.
In 1997, The International Association of Jazz Educators awarded Rufus with the Humanitarian Award. BASS PLAYER magazine, awarded Rufus the 1998 Jazz Educator Achievement Award, and DOWN BEAT magazine in March 1999, had a feature story on Rufus Reid as a legendary thirty year veteran. In November 1999, The New Jersey Chapter of the IAJE named him OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR of 1999.
Rufus Reid's CD/DVD recording, Live at Kennedy Center, by noted Independent label, Motema Music was recorded October 13, 2006, at Washington, DC's venerable national home for the performing arts, and released May 29, 2007. This CD/DVD set features diverse moods and textures ranging from his dynamic opening jaunt "Come Out and Play," one of many compelling, accessible original compositions on the disc to "Ode to Angela," by Harold Land, "Heroes" by Billy Childs, and a sensitive solo bass interpretation of Duke Ellington's classic, "Sophisticated Lady." This package also includes a special in-depth feature, "Meet Rufus Reid," our sentiment exactly for this session of Harlem Speaks.