Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tomeka Reid Quartet (Thirsty Ear, 2015)

A cellist, composer and educator in the fertile Chicago jazz scene, Tomeka Reid makes her debut as a leader in the company of Jason Roebke on bass, Mary Halvorson on guitar and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. The music is an interesting mix of progressive jazz with classical flourishes. Eric Dolphy’s “17 West” is a perfect introduction, since Ron Carter played cello on the original recording, and Reid plays with tightly coiled energy here shadowed by guitar and drums. Mary Halvorson’s guitar playing is pointillistic and artistic amidst the shimmering cello. The swing of “Etoile” has a bit of a sadder feel from Reid’s cello, and she shows that she is capable of great emotional range on here instrument. Her soloing is unhurried and quite beautiful and pleasing to listen to, with the gentle swing of bass and drums supporting her underneath. Mary Halvorson moves in adding carefully articulated notes to the proceedings in a well thought out solo statement. Roebke’s bass is deep and resonant in his brief solo turn, before the music returns to the full band’s delicate, yet dynamic improvisation. “Woodlawn” has medium tempo, with Mary Halvorson developing interesting sounds from an opening solo, and as the band slowly builds the pace around her. Reid’s plucked solo gets a high pitched sound juxtaposed against the bass and drums, and then moves to a crystalline bowed section. “Samo Swing” is a short and brightly up-tempo performance with Mary Harvorson’s guitar snaking thought a thicket of deep bass and drums, before Reid takes center stage with a plucked solo of her own, making clipped sounds that offset the guitar very well. Harvlorson comes back with a cool toned guitar solo that concludes the tune. This was an interesting album, Reid’s cello and compositions were able to develop a wide range of textures for the musicians to explore, and it was interesting to here her in this environment. The bass and drums played pretty much straightforward and this allowed a lot of open space for the leader and Mary Halvorson to make their imprint upon the music. Tomeka Reid Quartet -

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