I just returned from an exciting seven- day visit to Johannesburg, South Africa.  Mr. Oupa Salemane from the JAZZ FOUNDATION invited me to bring my big band music augmented with strings and miscellaneous woodwinds for two fantastic concerts. There were two exceptional South African vocalists, Pu2ma and seasoned veteran, Sibongile Khaumalo.  The highlight for me was being in the presence of the 91 year old Master musician, Dr. Yusef Lateef , whose compositions were demanding and deep!  He wrote a stunning string quartet, which was performed beautifully as part of his presentation.


The best was the rare opportunity for two performances in the majestic and beautiful Lyric Theater in the Gold Reef City Casino.  The orchestra worked extremely hard and diligently putting together this power packed, diverse program.  The second performance really jumped out of the box and “a good time was had by all.”  Maestro Prince Lengoasa successfully conducted the huge orchestra through its paces through the diversified program.  Be sure to check out my photos from this trip.


This was our first time to travel to South Africa.  The people there are very cordial and respectful people.   We were also fortunate to be in Johannesburg during the 93rd birthday of Nelson Mandela.  There was a great buzz going around the city and the entire country.  We visited the Apartheid Museum, which was very heavy and deep emotionally.   We were taken on a tour of the village of Soweto.  The history in this small place is just overwhelming.


Part of our activities sponsored by the Jazz Foundation was also to interact with young jazz students at Johnny Mekoa's Music Academy of Gauteng. This is a greatly protected environment where dedicated jazz students from all around Africa come to study jazz.  They make it possible even for the poorest students who have the desire to perform and learn about our music.   There was some really impressive playing going on, too.  Our standing ovation welcoming response was very gratifying. Sure felt like I was important! :-)
 Featuring the Out Front Trio of Reid, Steve Allee (piano) & Duduka Da Fonseca (drums), with very special guests, legendary saxophonist Bobby Watson, trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, saxophonist J.D. Allen & master Brazilian composer/guitarist Toninho Horta.  Produced by Suzi Reynolds and to released on April 12 on Motema Music.

The Making of Hues of a Different Blue
Since their previous recording, Out Front, the fantastic chemistry of the Out Front Trio (Reid w/Steve Allee and Duduka Da Fonseca) has only grown stronger and deeper, plainly evident in their reading of Reid's new compositions and the standards that comprise Hues of a Different Blue. We were also amazed to witness an immediate camaraderie and excitement for the music throughout the sessions from our new musical guests as we met and made music together with them for the very first time. For me, this is what the real meaning of jazz is!, stated Reid.
While Reid was certainly "the architect" (as Allee called him) of the project, the making of Hues of a Different Blue was geared toward featuring everyone in new and exciting formats. Reid explains further, In designing these arrangements, my goal was to feature the unique sound of the trio and the unique voice of each guest, in unexpected ways that would offer a new musical experience for each player, and an exciting new surprise for you as well. I'm delighted with the results and hope you will be too.
With Hues of a Different Blue, Rufus Reid has created an album of music that can best be described with one word, unforgettable; clearly for the musicians, but most importantly, for the listeners. It is a joy in life to witness an artist hitting a creative stride; Rufus has been on one for many decades, and that continues unabated with this recording. It is a valuable experience beyond measure to view great visual art, to read exceptional literature, and to hear extraordinary music, as each piece carries with it the possibility for us to reflect on ourselves and humanity, and delight us in ways we never thought possible. Hues of a Different Blue accomplishes just that, and as Rufus says in his velvet baritone, you can't get any better than that.

My Uncle, Dosh Jackson, was 100 years old in February.
His family honored him by creating a scholarship in his name.
My Trio "Out Front" with Steve Allee and Duduka Da Fonseca performed for the kick off to raise money for this wonderful scholarship on Feb. 18. It was a most incredible evening and weekend celebrating his abundant life. It was thrilling to see his entire family and friends rally to the occasion.
Mass Transit, my three-movement symphony orchestra work, debuted with two performances, May 7, 2011 in Idyllwild, CA & May 8 at The Redcat Theater in LA, which is the culmination of my Guggenheim Fellowship Project. To help me reach this deadline I was grateful to receive the MacDowell Colony Fellowship in 2010 (www.macdowellcolony.org).  I spent the end of 2010 working as hard as I could on  this orchestral composition.
On March 25, 2011, the Youth Symphony of DuPage, conducted by Meng-Kong Tham, premiered my orchestral version of "Caress The Thought." The bass soloist was Joseph Guastafeste. Joe Guastafeste recently retired, after 49 years from the Chicago Symphony as the Principal Double Bassist! This was a thrilling moment for me to hear my first full orchestra work performed and by one of my teachers! The evening was magnificent, the orchestra performed fantastically, and it will be always be a great memory. Joe not only performed my piece, but was featured on two other compositions by Chicago bassist, Larry Gray, who was also a student of Joe's. I'm happy to say that Joe is only retiring from the CSO, but not from playing the bass, which he dearly loves. It was very inspiring to see him challenge himself and put all his years of experience and passion into the entire program.
February found me in Canada as a guest of The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, performing my big band compositions.  They are a great band and we had a wonderful time.   
Last July was an experience for me that will be hard to top. Through application, I was accepted to participate in an intense five day workshop called JAZZ COMPOSERS ORCHESTRA INSTITUTE, held at Columbia University. This was a collaboration with The Center For Jazz Studies, George Lewis, Director, and The American Composers Orchestra, and Michael Geller, Executive Director. This Institute continued with 8 of us  being given the opportunity to have a piece performed by the American Composer's Orchestra in June, 2011. 

 WBGO's Josh Jackson's 'Check Out Jazz' featured The Rufus' Trio Tuesday, June 29. Did you catch it? If you missed it, check out the archive. Josh has created a wonderful situation here. Enjoy his incredible site, www.checkoutjazz.org.

 One more very important thing I wish to mention here is the recording of a very special CD for Ned Mann to give him the opportunity to raise money for ALS. Eleven years ago, Ned was struck with this illness. Many of you know that the bass I perform on now was his. I helped him choose this instrument in 1982. Ned was an incredible musician and recording engineer. FYI, he recorded the two duo recordings,. "Double Bass Delights" and "Intimacy of the Bass," with Michael Moore and myself. To raise awareness of this devastating disease, Ned had the idea to record a CD with friends of his and use the profits for the ALS Foundation. The end result is a marvelous, musical two CD package. Ned and his brother Dave were the producers. Although he lives in San Diego, and the CD was recorded in NJ, he was present via Skype. Please go to his web site where you can read his story and purchase or download the music. It is an incredible story of Ned's ingenuity, perseverance and courage! www.helpnedfightals.org
I want to mention the 17th Annual Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists in Madison, WI. This is a workshop I try never to miss. It is just so rewarding. The youngest player was 5 years old and he performed too! Virtuoso players like Diana Gannett, David Murray, Larry Hutchinson, Peter Dominquez and Richard Davis, to name a few, were there to coach and perform for two very special days.
 In 2007, Motema Music released a package set, The Rufus Reid Quintet "Live At The Kennedy Center." I am still extremely happy about the music and this marvelous production. The members of this stellar ensemble are Rich Perry, saxophone; Freddie Hendrix, trumpet and flugelhorn; Tim Horner, drums and Sumi Tonooka, piano. There is a bonus track on the DVD and a 30 minute session with me. I'm proud to say that what you hear is what happened that night. This was recorded live with no digital editing on any kind. In a addition, there was an NPR broadcast on JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.

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