field report no.010616

SUBJECT: Tomeka Reid Quartet

These are all advanced, modern jazz players (no retro-fetishists)—but given that, they still roll with a heavy sense of classical swing. They evoke a feeling of chamber jazz as well, arranging the group as a string trio bolstered by percussion (with guitar replacing the violin).

Mary Halvorson held the floor (and attention) the most. She has an uncanny ability to shift between stylistic references and dynamics within a single line—finishing a run of delicate, rapid chiming notes of complicated fingering with a bluesy hammering on a single open string. Fujiwara grounded the classical feel with a steady backbeat and a sepia-toned palette, heavy on splashy cymbals and rimshots. As the leader (and writer of many of the numbers), Tomeka Reid served the songs over showboating, often bowing her cello, drawing the melodic core out of the songs. Her solos, though not fierce, were often abstract and striking.

The song, Wabash Ave—not featured on their first, self-titled LP—was a raucous closer, filled with slippery tempos. The last solo was given over to Fujiwara who ran for all he was worth, showing an impressive dexterity and melodicism on his kit.

NOTES: Tomeka Reid, cello; Mary Halvorson, guitar; Jason Roebke, bass; Tomas Fujiwara, drums.