Quiet Pride: The Elizabeth Catlett Project, released in 2014, is the latest offering by premiere bassist Rufus Reid, but there was nothing quiet about The Big Band Sound of Rufus Reid as they played selections from this Grammy nominated work. Quiet Pride is an homage to the work of Black graphic artist, sculptor and activist Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012). The titles of the six piece suite are all titles of works created by Catlett and Reid’s compositions and arrangements serve to be beautiful accompaniments to what are already visually stunning pieces of art.
At Jazz Standard Rufus Reid’s big band spilled off the stage and into audience. Along with Reid the band included Steve Allee tickling the piano, Vic Juris strumming the guitar, Chris Beck’s pounding the drums, Charenee Wade’ vocal styling and a reed and horn section that included 15 musicians. Conductor Dennis Mackrel stood in front of the performers to make sure that each of them was on point. And “on point” would be a feeble colloquialism to describe the robust, wall of sound that echoed from The Big Band Sound of Rufus Reid.
They started their set with Recognition, followed by Mother and Child, Tapestry in the Sky, Singing Head and Glory. The music was so plush, so luxurious in texture, so rapturous in harmony. Reid’s aural reimagining of Catlett’s work is as soulful and magnificent as the work itself. I was particularly impressed with Charenee Wade; her haunting voice held its own with band and proved that voice is indeed its own instrument. Chris Beck hit the drums like he was midway through a possession. His drum solo was ferocious and had me clapping my hands and stomping my feet.
Artists often inspire other artists. Quiet Pride is sure to spark many imaginations. I thought The Big Band Sound of Rufus Reid was a beautiful ending to February and Black History Month at Jazz Standard. One legend recognizing another with the timeless language of music – doesn’t get any better than that.