Scott Reeves
Creative Jazz Improvisation
CD: "Shape Shifter" Scott Reeves Quintet LIVE at Cecil's

Scott Reeves Quintet
Shape Shifter

Recorded live a Cecil's Jazz Club

Track Listing
1. Shape Shifter
2. The Alchemist
3. Without a Trace
4. The Soulful Mr. Williams (dedicated to James Williams)
5. Pedacinho do Brasil
6. New Bamboo
7. 3 'n 2
8. Incandescence
9. Last Call

All compositions and arrangements by Scott Reeves
© Scott Reeves, Reebone Music, BMI

Scott Reeves Quintet:
Scott Reeves
alto flugelhorn, alto valve trombone

Rich Perry
tenor saxophone

Jim Ridl

Mike McGuirk

Andy Watson

Scott Reeves is an adventurous improviser and a well-respected educator who is also an innovative composer. Shape Shifter showcases both his writing and his playing as he leads his working quintet through a challenging program of his originals. Born and raised in Chicago, Reeves has been on the faculty of quite a few major institutions including Juilliard, the University of Southern Maine and currently City College of New York. Reeves is the author of two important books that are widely used in schools: Creative Jazz Improvisation and Creative Beginnings. Since moving to New York in 1999, he has played with the Dave Liebman Big Band, Chico O'Farrill, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Oliver Lake Big Band, Anthony Braxton, John Patitucci and other giants of the music.

Shape Shifter was recorded live over two nights at Cecil's Jazz Club, drummer Cecil Brooks III's nightclub in West Orange, New Jersey. Of his sideman, Reeves says, "I love tenor-saxophonist Rich Perry's playing because he knows how to develop a solo and he is not a cliché player. The rest of the band is actually the rhythm section in a second group that I lead, Manhattan Bones, which has four trombones and three rhythm. Pianist Jim Ridl, bassist Mike McGuirk and drummer Andy Watson are great accompanists, strong soloists, and incredible readers."

While Scott Reeves is best known as a trombonist, on seven of the nine numbers he plays alto flugelhorn, switching to the alto valve trombone for two other selections. 

Reeves explains, "I fell in love awhile ago with the alto flugelhorn, which was made by a German company. It is a fifth lower than a regular flugelhorn and I use a modified trombone mouthpiece. Its sound is a combination of the valve trombone, French horn and the flugelhorn played in the lower register. As far as I know I'm the only one in jazz playing that instrument. In recent years I designed the alto valve trombone which is a standard valve trombone with one-third of the tubing cut off"

The program begins with the title track "Shape Shifter." It was originally written for the BMI Jazz Composers' Orchestra, was adjusted for Reeves' four-trombone group, and most recently has been adapted for the quintet. Built on a 12-tone row and inspired by Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera's "Piano Sonata," this performance features Perry's brooding tenor, the leader's heated alto valve trombone, and Ridl soloing over shifting time signatures.

"The Alchemist," dedicated to Miles Davis, is an outstanding feature for the inventive piano playing of Jim Ridl.

"Without a Trace" is described by Reeves as "a personal song about losing something in one's life and then regaining it again." The moody ballad is haunting, has a colorful blend between the two horns, and features lyrical statements from the soloists.

"The Soulful Mr. Williams" is a tribute to the late great pianist James Williams. Williams played on part of Reeves' first CD "Congressional Roll Call," and was a frequent clinician at schools where Scott taught. This bluesy and relatively straight-ahead modal piece is more radical than it sounds on first listen because of its 23-bar structure.

The catchy "Pedacinho do Brasil" was inspired by Hermeto Pascoal and showcases Perry and Watson.

"New Bamboo" is a contrast, a piece that is influenced by Dave Liebman's polytonal chromatic concept with Reeves using a pitch follower device on his alto flugelhorn during part of his solo. The interplay between the members of the rgythm section during the piano solo and the Spanish groove felt throughout the piece are quite notable.

"3 'n 2" originally used random material which over time developed into a structure that swings and inspires the musicians.

"Incandescence" is a bit classical in its harmony and form, and Reeves says that it owes more to French impressionism than jazz. This is a cinematic piece that gradually evolves.

The CD's closer, "Last Call," a John Coltrane-type blues, gives Reeves, Perry and McGuirk opportunities to stretch out.

For the future, Scott Reeves says, "I look forward to playing with great musicians who challenge me like the ones in my quintet." With the release of the consistently stimulating "Shape Shifter," one cannot imagine him having any difficulty attracting major players to explore his innovative music.

-Scott Yanow
(Scott Yanow is the author of ten jazz books including The Jazz Singers, Bebop, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Film, and Jazz On Record 1917-76)

Release date: 3/17/2009

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