Monday, November 9, 2009

Drummer Mike Reed Helps Define Modern Chicago Jazz

Today, more interesting new Chicago jazz, this time headed by drummer Mike Reed and his People, Places & Things ensemble. About Us (482 Music) brings to light the second in a projected three disk trilogy covering a kind of homage to Chicagoland's rich jazz history.

Reed is joined by Greg Ward on alto, Tim Haldeman on tenor and Jason Roebke on bass, capable players all. This is music with a pulse, freebop excursions made to jell by Mike Reed's compositional vehicles. Three cuts feature some prominent guests: "Big and Fine" highlights the playing and writing prowess of tenorist David Boykins; "Big Stubby" brings in trombonist Jeb Bishop to the same end; and "Days Fly By" spotlights the guitar and pen of Jeff Parker (who we have recently encountered in Fred Anderson's 80th birthday recording--see below).

With or without the guests, Reed's gathering delivers potent, excitingly spontaneous improvisations with an incandescent rhythm section foundation. If someone were to ask me, "What is going on in Chicago jazz today?" I would unhesitatingly refer them to this recording, among others. It is a joy to hear.

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