Reggie Workman

1999 Living Legacy Awardee

Black and white photo of Reggie Workman playing his bass.

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Image: Reggie Workman, Credit: Courtesy of the artist.

Bassist, composer, arranger, recording artist and educator Reggie Workman’s playing styles include Bop, Post-Bop, free jazz, experimental jazz, and funk as well as a contemporary approach to jazz improvisation and composition. Mr. Workman has played and recorded nationally and internationally with such jazz greats as John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter and many others.

Although some of his best known recordings include those done in collaboration with Coltrane, Blakey and Lee Morgan, by the early 1970’s Mr. Workman had become a well established figure in the jazz community, inventing his own language of sound and expression as a performer and composer.

In 1982, Mr. Workman formed The Reggie Workman Ensemble. This new direction provided him with the opportunity to perform, produce and compose his own brand of avant-experimental jazz.

Throughout the 1980’s and ’90’s Workman has continuously recorded new musical ideas. His close association with John Coltrane led to the organization of The Coltrane Legacy at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1987. In 1990 he co-produced and performed another moving tribute to John Coltrane at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In 1998 he established the Legacy Project, influenced by John Coltrane’s Africa Brass, which was performed across the mid-Atlantic region.

As an educator, Mr. Workman’s credits are as impressive as his playing and composing credits. In 1974, he received a fellowship from the Creative Artists Personal Services Foundation and sat on the fellowship selection panel the following year. He organized and directed the music curriculum at the New Muse Community Museum. Since 1989, Mr. Workman has been a full-time professor and curriculum coordinator at the New School for Social Research, Jazz Department in New York City where he implemented programs such as the Bass Ensemble Workshops, the Futuristic Music Ensemble, the Coltrane Ensemble, and the Jazz Master Class Series.

Mr. Workman has received many awards for a life’s work in jazz and jazz education including the Eubie Blake Award in 1978, the Life Achievement Award by the Jazz Foundation of America in 1997, and the citation of excellence from the International Association of Jazz Educators in 1997.

*Bio from Award presentation.