Recently described as a “New Jazz Power Source” by the New York Times, cellist & composer Tomeka Reid emerged as one of the most original, versatile, and curious musicians in the Chicago’s bustling jazz and improvised music community over the last decade. Now based in New York, her distinctive melodic sensibility, usually braided to a strong sense of groove, has been featured in many distinguished ensembles over the years. She has been a key member of ensembles led by legendary reedists like Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell, as well as a younger generation of visionaries including flutist Nicole Mitchell, singer Dee Alexander, and drummer Mike Reed. She is also a co- leader of the adventurous string trio, Hear in Now, with violinist Mazz Swift & bassist Silvia Bolognesi. Tomeka released her debut recording as a bandleader in 2015, with the eponymous recording by the Tomeka Reid Quartet (Jason Roebke, Tomas Fujiwara & Mary Halvorson), a lively yet charged debut album that is a vibrant showcase not only for the cellist’s improvisational acumen, but also her knack for dynamic arrangements and her compositional ability. She grew up outside of Washington D.C., and her musical career kicked into gear after moving to Chicago in 2000 to attend DePaul University for graduate school. Her work with Nicole Mitchell and various Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians-related groups have proved influential to the young musician. By focusing on developing her craft primarily as a side person and working in countless improvisational contexts, Tomeka has achieved a stunning musical maturity and is a 2016 recipient of a 3Arts award in music and received her doctorate in music from the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign in 2017.
Right before she was heading out the door to go on a European tour with the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, I had the distinct pleasure of catching up with Tomeka ahead of her upcoming upcoming travels through Wisconsin with her quartet, including a stop at Arts & Literature Laboratory on October 31st. We dive into what those in attendance could expect from a live show, the creation of the freshly released (October 4th) album “New Old” on Cuneiform Records and the talent (Jason Roebke, Tomas Fujiwara & Mary Halvorson) she has alongside her on both the album and the tour. I am such a fan of this new music as it has the unique ability to take me there, from here and the explorations of both spaces and the in between stop me in my tracks….I can hardly imaGine how incredible it will translate into a shared listening room. I feel connected to Tomeka through her textures and melodies and I have a sneaky suspicion, others will find that same connection, whether it be from the record or the live event.