Recently described as “a new jazz power source” by the New York Times, cellist and composer Tomeka Reid has emerged as one of the most original, versatile, and curious musicians in Chicago’s bustling jazz and improvised music community. Her distinctive melodic sensibility, usually braided to a strong sense of groove, has been featured in many distinguished ensembles over the years.
Reid has been a key member of ensembles led by legendary reedists like Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell, as well as a younger generation of visionaries including flutist Nicole Mitchell, singer Dee Alexander, and drummer Mike Reed. She is also a co-leader of the adventurous string trio called Hear in Now with violinist Mazz Swift and bassist Silvia Bolognesi. Reid’s most recent release, Old New, a quartet project with Mary Halvorson, Jason Roebke, and Tomas Fujiwara, came out on Cuneiform Records in 2019.
Reid grew up outside of Washington D.C., but her musical career kicked into gear when she moved to Chicago in 2000. Her work with Nicole Mitchell and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians proved influential. By focusing on developing her craft in countless improvisational contexts, Reid has achieved a stunning musical maturity. In the Fall of 2019, Reid received a teaching appointment at Mills College as the Darius Milhaud chair in composition.
At Big Ears, Reid performs in collaboration with poet Nikky Finney, and as a member—along with Ches Smith—of Craig Taborn’s trio.