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The Rufus Reid Quintet at the Kennedy Center

Rufus Reid grew up in Sacramento, playing the trumpet, but after serving in the Air Force, he decided to move to the opposite end of the spectrum. He studied bass with a member of the symphony in Seattle, where he met his wife Doris, who has been a true partner in his career. Then he went to Northwestern University, studied with two teachers (including the principal bassist from the Chicago Symphony), and earned his degree.

In the last 30 years of jazz, Reid has been a major-league support player with saxophonist Dexter Gordon, trumpeters Art Farmer and Freddie Hubbard, and trombonist JJ Johnson — an A-list he could write a book about. In fact, his book, The Evolving Bassist, an essential guide to the string bass in jazz.

Reid became a professor at William Paterson College in New Jersey, building a recognized jazz studies department to educate future generations. After 20 years, he handed the job over to the late James Williams, and now Mulgrew Miller is the Jazz Program Director at William Paterson University. Through the 1990s, Reid also co-led Tana Reid with drummer Akira Tana.

Although Reid plays great bass lines, he says he loves melody just as well. These days, he burns both ends of a new candle as a composer and bandleader with the Rufus Reid Quintet on JazzSet.


Thanks to Dr. Billy Taylor and Kevin Struthers of Kennedy Center Jazz; Greg Hartman of Big Mo Recording with Mark Barrie and Casey Wolfram; music mixer Duke Markos; producer Becca Pulliam; executive producer Thurston Briscoe III @ WBGO, Jazz 88 in Newark, NJ, and wbgo.org.

This program originally aired May 5, 2007.

Copyright 2008 WBGO