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Cellist Tomeka Reid to Perform Free Show at Northwestern

Named “Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz” by the Chicago Tribune

  • Performs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art
  • Reid’s music combines jazz, classical and experimental techniques
  • ‘It’s my responsibility to do what I’m doing. To give up is irresponsible’

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Cellist Tomeka Reid, named “Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz,” will perform in a free show at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 at Northwestern University.

Reid performs with percussionist Adam Vida and animation artist Selina Trepp at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, in Evanston. The event, co-sponsored by the Northwestern Black Arts Initiative, is held in conjunction with the Block Museum’s current main gallery exhibition, “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s.”

Reid’s work parallels that of Moorman, a groundbreaking artist and musician, in its classical and experimental scope.

Described as “one of the great energies of jazz” by The New York Times, the versatile Reid is also a composer, arranger and educator. Equally adept in classical and jazz contexts, she often finds herself in experimental and improvisatory settings and composes for a wide range of instrumentation, from big band to chamber ensemble. Reid’s music combines her love for groove along with freer concepts, and merges jazz, classical and experimental techniques.

“Reid’s sonorous tone and novel techniques on cello, open-earned sensibility as composer and inspirational stature as conductor rejuvenate our notions of what jazz is and can be,” wrote Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich.

Reid is currently featured in the Web series “Worth Telling,” a national Black History Month campaign by Allstate Insurance Company that spotlights African-American role models in the fields of art, education, health, science, music and entrepreneurship.

“It’s my responsibility to do what I’m doing. To give up is irresponsible,” Reid said in the video. “Black moms bring their little girls to my show and say, ‘they see you play and now they want to play.’ That’s huge to me.”

Reid performs internationally with some of today’s most creative musicians, including Dee Alexander’s Evolution Ensemble, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians’ (AACM) Great Black Music Ensemble, the string trio Hear in Now, and the Tomeka Reid Quartet, featuring bassist Jason Roebke, guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara.

Listen to her on NPR's Fresh Air.

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