Nat Reeves article @ All About Jazz

Courtesy Frank Poulin

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Nat Reeves
Jazz At The Joint
North Little Rock, AR
April 11, 2021

The April 2022 edition of

Ted Ludwig

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Ted Ludwig‘s “Jazz At The Joint” welcomed Hartford, Connecticut-centered bassist

Nat Reeves

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Nat Reeves to The Joint’s stage in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Reeves has spent the last 40 years performing and recording with the likes of

Jim Snidero
Jim Snidero

saxophone, alto
b.1958

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Jim Snidero,

Harold Mabern
Harold Mabern

piano
1936 – 2019

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Harold Mabern,

Steve Davis
Steve Davis

trombone
b.1967

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Steve Davis,

Eric Alexander
Eric Alexander

saxophone, tenor
b.1968

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Eric Alexander,

Joe Farnsworth
Joe Farnsworth

drums
b.1968

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Joe Farnsworth. These are just some of the contemporary guys with whom Reeves has played. Add the earlier artists like

Jackie McLean
Jackie McLean

saxophone, alto
1932 – 2006

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Jackie McLean,

Benny Golson
Benny Golson

saxophone, tenor
b.1929

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Benny Golson,

Donald Byrd
Donald Byrd

trumpet
1932 – 2013

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Donald Byrd,

Art Taylor
Art Taylor

drums
1929 – 1995

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Art Taylor,

Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller

piano
1955 – 2013

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Mulgrew Miller,

Kenny Kirkland
Kenny Kirkland

piano
1955 – 1998

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Kenny Kirkland,

Walter Davis

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Walter Davis,

Walter Bishop, Jr.
Walter Bishop, Jr.

piano
1927 – 1998

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Walter Bishop, Jr.,

Larry Willis
Larry Willis

piano
1942 – 2019

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Larry Willisand

Kenny Drew
Kenny Drew

piano
1928 – 1993

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Kenny Drew. He has even worked with Little Rock’s own

Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders

saxophone, tenor
b.1940

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Pharoah Sanderstaking Reeves’ bona fides platinum.

In 1982, Reeves met alto saxophonist Jackie McLean who would become his mentor. Reeves performed with McLean from 1987 to 2004. He also worked with McLean at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford, where McLean had established the African American Music Department (now the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz). In addition to recording and touring, this is where Reeves instructed students in the art of jazz.

Having recently retired, the bassist returned to live performance, adding this one at the behest of Ted Ludwig. Joining Reeves and Ludwig was Memphis alto saxophonist Michael Schultz and Ludwig’s long-time associate, ” data-original-title=”” title=””>Brian Brown, on drums. From the introductions, these festivities were to be elegant, polite, and impeccably dressed, mirroring the guest leader himself. Soft-spoken and urbane, Reeves introduced himself and it was immediately apparent that we were attending a master’s seminar in jazz performance and that the teacher was there to teach.

Ted Ludwig has a knack for developing provocative and challenging programs that typically worked up shortly in advance with the visiting artist. One can always expect the inclusion of standards from the Great American Songbook and we were not disappointed. But before that, the show started with a jazz standard,

Duke Pearson
Duke Pearson

piano
1932 – 1980

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Duke Pearson‘s “Jeannine,” which provided the necessary momentum to heat the pistons on the performance. “East Of The Sun” provided a full group exposition while “Mean To Me” was a Reeves feature, where the bassist showed off his technical and melodic talents. A striking “I Can’t Get Started” led to a brief intermission.

The final section of the show presented the popular tune, “Sunny,” an exciting surprise cleverly programmed into the performance. Spirited and artful, the quartet played with exuberance and joy. The show concluded with a ballad-bebop diptych of

Cole Porter
Cole Porter

composer/conductor
1891 – 1964

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Cole Porter‘s “I Love You,” pushed against

Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker

saxophone, alto
1920 – 1955

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Charlie Parker‘s “Segment.”

In this show, Reeves brought some suggestions to the discussion that challenged Ludwig (as he admitted). These included Reeves’s long-time collaborator, alto saxophonist

Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett

saxophone, alto
b.1960

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Kenny Garrett‘s “Chief Blackwater” which found its way into the recital, in the second half. This choice enabled all of the musicians to move beyond the “standard” form into something less predictable and more thrilling. Schultz, who played with inspiration all evening was at his most galvanized here, as Ludwig was to accept the challenge and rise to the occasion. Reeves directed the piece with authority and aplomb. Reeves’ deep humility, knowledge, and dedication to jazz added quiet scintillation to the evening, complementing all of the musicians.

Setlist

Jeannine (Duke Pearson); East Of The Sun (and West Of The Moon) (Brooks Bowman); Mean To Me (Fred E. Ahlert / Roy Turk); Question and answer with the band; I Can’t Get Started (Vernon Duke / Ira Gershwin); Intermission; Sunny (Bobby Hebb); Chief Black Water {Kenny Garrett); I Love You (Cole Porter); Segment (Charlie Parker).

Musicians

Featured Artist: Nat Reeves: bass; Michael Schultz: alto saxophone; Ted Ludwig: guitar; Brian Brown: drums.

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