Rufus Reid

2005 Living Legacy Awardee

Color photo of Rufus Reid with his bass.

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Image: Rufus Reid. Credit: Jimmy Katz.

Rufus Reid was born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Sacramento, California and currently resides in Teaneck, New Jersey. He received his Associate Arts Degree from Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington, in 1969. He continued his education at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and received a Bachelor of Music Degree as a Performance Major on the Double Bass. He has studied with James Harnett of the Seattle Symphony, Warren Benfield and Joe Guastefeste of the Chicago Symphony.

Rufus began doing clinics in 1971, adjudicating and performing. He left William Paterson University of Wayne, NJ, after 20 years as Director of the Jazz Studies and Performance Program. During this period of time, he developed the curriculum for this degree program and coached small and large ensembles. He created two outreach programs; Residencies at Eastside High School and Rosa Parks High School in Paterson, New Jersey.

Mr. Reid published two bass method books entitled: The Evolving Bassist and Evolving Upward. In January, 2000, Rufus released the Millennium Edition which was a revised edition comprising both books and additional material. Warner Bros. released his instructional DVD, The Evolving Bassist, in 2002.

From 1980 to 1985, Rufus was on the music panel of The National Foundation for the Advancements in the Arts. This program is called ARTS (Art Recognition and Talent Search), for graduating high school students. The program is now affiliated with the International Association of Jazz Educators.

His professional career began in Seattle, continued in Chicago and now in New York, where he was performed, traveled and recorded with many of the Jazz Masters. Some who have passed on include Eddie Harris, Dexter Gordon, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, J.J. Johnson, and Art Farmer. He continues to perform with such artists as Benny Golson, Kenny Burrell, Lee Konitz, James Moody, Bob Mintzer, and Kenny Barron, to name a few.

Mr. Reid has also performed and recorded Honey and Rue with Kathleen Battle and the St. Lukes Chamber Orchestra, and pianist, composer Andre Previn. In 1992, Mr. Reid performed Two Faces, a concerto for Solo Double Bass and Jazz Trio, composed by Benny Golson for Rufus Reid with the Wayne Chamber Orchestra. It was debuted at William Paterson College (now University) and also at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.

In 1998, Mr. Reid was asked to serve as the Music Director for the premiere of the NJPAC/WBGO Jazz For Teens Program, a new educational program sponsored by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in collaboration with Newark Public Radio.

Mr. Reid joined in partnership with drummer Akira Tana in 1990 to form the quintet TanaReid. For ten years they traveled, performed, and taught around the world. They recorded five CD’s during their time together: Yours and Mine, and Passing Thoughts for Concord Records; and Blue MotionLooking Forward, and Back To Front on Evidence Records.

In January of 1997, the International Association of Jazz Educators awarded Mr. Reid with the Humanitarian Award. Down Beat Magazine presented him the 1998 Achievement Award for Jazz Education. He won the first annual BMI Foundation/Charlie Parker Jazz Composition award in 2000.

Rufus was presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award in 2001 by the International Society of Bassists.

Composition has now become a larger part of Rufus’ life. He is busy fulfilling commissions and writing for his own work as a soloist with big bands, or creating music for his quintet. His latest release with this group is The Gait Keeper on Sunnyside. He has three other releases on Sunnyside: Perpetual Stroll, Seven Minds, and Corridor To The Limits. Rufus also has three duo bass CD’s; Doublebass Delights and The Intimacy of the Bass with Michael Moore and Alone Together with Peter Ind.

Mr. Reid has spent a large portion of his career advancing jazz education. His passion for the music and his unique method of teaching and relating to various age groups makes him very special. He has inspired students to perform beyond their own expectations. Previous students continue to contact him for advice. Mr. Reid continues to work with The Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camps, The Stanford Jazz Workshop, The Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists, and Ravinia’s Stean’s Institute for Young Artists. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded grants to students specifically to study with Mr. Reid. Saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom stated, “It doesn’t matter what Rufus does, whether it is teaching, playing, or composing – he speaks bass from the heart. His sincerity pervades everything that he does.” Mr. Reid is one of the most in demand bassists in the world – both performing and recording; yet he takes the time for the education aspect of his career and is totally committed to jazz education and sharing his craft with students. He is a very nurturing and gentle person and is equally at home on the bandstand or in the bandroom. He has a lifetime commitment to educating and developing youth.

*Bio from Award presentation.