On the double bass, few swing quite like Rufus Reid. His Hues of a Different Blue, recorded with the Out Front Trio, is a bouncy and enticing piece of work that spans 14 tracks of pure energy and joy. At the core of all this fun and hard-swinging greatness is a raw sense of the blues. It’s not tucked into some portions and it doesn’t just sprinkle out of some lines; it’s in the soul of Reid’s take on music. Period.
The Out Front Trio is Reid, Duduka Da Fonseca (drums) and Steve Allee (piano). Along for the ride is a generous selection of special guests, including Brazilian composer/guitarist Toninho Horta and saxophonist J. D. Allen.
Hues of a Different Blue kicks off with a slamming pace on “It’s the Nights I Like.” The sentiment is driven home with dramatic, hard playing. Reid and Allee spare few with their relentless pursuit of the groove. Allee almost smacks the ivories, pressing with the sort of vigour normally reserved for late-night sets.
Horta and Duduka ground “When She Smiles Upon Your Face” with a delicate but strong samba. Horta’s solo is clean and the horn presence of Allen and legendary saxophonist Bobby Watson propel things even further.
Reid has clearly mastered his instrument and struts all over Hues of a Different Blue. He knows how to share the spotlight, however, and the soloists glide effortlessly over his pristine foundations. Each piece has a subtle but knowing groove, as though Reid’s impeccable playing is guiding the entire production along its destined path.
“In designing these arrangements,” says Reid, “my goal was to feature the unique sound of the trio and the unique voice of each guest in unexpected ways that would offer a new musical experience for each player – and an exciting new surprise for you as well.”
Each piece really does have its own flavour and pace. This is by design, obviously, and Reid is more than content to let others take to the magic. Horta’s blend of guitar and voice on “Francisca” is a perfect example, with Reid’s bass gently kissing the arrangement alongside the intoxicating lead lines.
A musician’s musician, Rufus Reid proves his stuff on Hues of a Different Blue. His attention to detail and fine playing make this record well worth more than a few listens.
This was originally published as I Hear Sparks: Rufus Reid – Hues of a Different Blue at Blogcritics.org