Tomeka Reid: 3+3 And Then

Editor's Choice

Rating: ★★★★

Record and Artist Details


Tomeka Reid (clo)
Tomas Fujiwara
Jason Roebke (b)
Mary Halvorson (el g)




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Rec. 20-21 August 2023

Aside from her work with Nicole Mitchell and Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Tomeka Reid has staked a claim as a key figure among the relatively small number of cellist-composer-bandleaders in improvised music. She is an excellent soloist, as commanding with pizzicato as she is arco, but she also has a gift for writing melodies that can be as charmingly nostalgic as they are seductively unsettling.

Reid’s thematic material is abundantly rich and her longstanding quartet is an exemplary vehicle for bringing it to life, partly because of the astute choice of instrumentation, in which Reid’s cello, Jason Roebke’s double bass and Mary Halvorson’s guitar form a kind of alternative string section, such are their cohesion, smart dovetailing and tight counterpoint. Yet the individual sounds are strong within the ensemble voice. Perhaps most cleverly Halvorson’s pinging electronic distortions imply that a virtual harp has joined the fold to emphasize the odd orchestral flavour of the music, which, due to the advanced sensitivity of the string players often suggests that the polyrhythmically agile Tomas Fujiwara is in the foreground rather than background.

The balance between improvisation and composition makes the work especially interesting and Reid has found a way of extending some of the left handed hard blues vocabulary of Abdul Wadud and Julius Hemphill and the classical-jazz subversions of Deirdre Murray and Fred Hopkins. Reid asserts herself as an artist with sufficient ideas and ability to be a notable contemporary addition to such illustrious historic precedents.

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