Rufus Reid, one of the most magnificent jazz bassists in history, scores here again with another recording in a trio featuring musicians who live up to his virtuosic tendencies. With pianist Steve Allee and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, Reid breezes through a program of understated originals, Latin-tinged music, and a bit of bop-flavored material sure to please all mainstream jazz fans. Clearly well-rehearsed, Reid puts the band through its paces with sounds more subtle and sophisticated than blaring, forced, or tough-faced. Three tracks are originals composed by the bassist, with Allee credited for two and one for Da Fonseca. The lone standard, "If You Could See Me Now," showcases the ultimately tuneful Reid, who plays the melody all the way through, while his bowed bass on "Caress the Thought" is ultimately dramatic. With the leader in stunning unison with Allee, the deep, heavy, and off-minor "Glory" should stop all listeners in their tracks, while conversely, the light, airy "Ebony" is far from dark, with a little shuffle tossed in. On the Brazilian side there's Marcos Silva's hopping samba "Dry Land," and Da Fonseca's "Doña Maria" suggests that Allee has heard his fair share of the modal McCoy Tyner. The musicianship is at such a high level that you cannot help but be pulled into this exceptional music, going far beyond the pale of most regular piano/bass/drums trios, led by the succinct, deft, and consistently brilliant bass playing of Reid, easily one of the top five bassists in modern jazz. – Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide
Rufus Reid keeps getting better. Those who know him by pleasant memory or his reputation for ubiquitous professionalism and versatility can still be ambushed by how refreshing the bassist sounds in his 60s. With his robust notes, woody tone and utter mastery of mainstream jazz timekeeping, he has been the spiritual heir of Ray Brown since Brown's death in 2002.
Out Front, his second disc and first studio album for Motema, finds him in an inspired, fairly democratic trio with kindred — if somewhat obscure — cohorts: pianist Steve Allee (Buddy Rich) and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca (Trio da Paz).
Allee credibly squawks cavernous chords a la McCoy Tyner ("Dona Maria," "Dry Land," "Crying Blues"), but he can also plumb the sweet spots of in-the-pocket swing tunes, as on his own "Ebony." Da Fonseca contributes sly hints of Brazilian music — check his brushwork on "The Rise of the Row" — but also builds and resolves tension with simmering beat combinations and erupting punctuations, as on his own ""Dona Maria" and Eddie Harris's "Crying Blues." There is palpable joy and assurance in the way all three ensemble members engage and abet each other throughout these nine tracks.
This already-satisfying trio outing is bolstered by Reid's star turns, which are spry, riveting and ever-tuneful, a virtuosic answer to any bass-lover's dreams. Reid takes the first 100 seconds of Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now" as an unaccompanied solo, and doesn't relinquish control of the lead narrative until more than five minutes have elapsed. It's a formidable early benchmark for the best straight-ahead jazz bass you'll hear in 2010. Or listen to his arco work on the suite "Caress the Thought," parts of which are more raucous than its title would indicate. Then there's his songlike phrasing to climax his solo on "The Rise of the Row," or his bold, danceable lines on what he rightfully describes in the liner notes as the "complex yet accessible melody and harmonies" of the lead track, "Glory." This is music of wide appeal.