If this video doesn’t break your heart, you’re not paying attention.
Rufus Reid is, of course, an icon. A direct link to the greats, a teacher and mentor to an entire generation of musicians and a titanic presence on countless timeless recordings. But what I find so inspiring about Rufus is his complete refusal to perch on his significant laurels.
This is Rufus’ third collaboration with Newvelle, and I hope to do many more. His duo record Always in the Moment with Sullivan Fortner will launch Newvelle Season Five vinyl subscription in February 2020. I was thrilled at Rufus' proposal to work with Sullivan Fortner, who is perhaps the most singular jazz pianist of his generation. Born and raised in New Orleans, with degrees from Oberlin and Manhattan School of Music, Sullivan has won multiple GRAMMY Awards and held court at the most iconic jazz venues in the world, including leading a band at the Village Vanguard. Most importantly, of course, is Sullivan is a unique voice—bringing something completely new to the table.
As a leader, composer and a player, Rufus is always searching. The title track from the upcoming release Always in the Moment is a perfect encapsulation of this quest. The piece is as modern as any jazz being written today and concurrently ageless. When I first heard this in the studio it was reminding me of a piece I knew and loved but I couldn’t put my finger on, only now am I realizing it was Glen Gould’s “Goldberg Variations” (the 1981 version, of course). It’s not the melodic content that makes this comparison feel telling, it’s that both pieces positively glow with the immediacy and anticipation of each successive note. The idea of being “Always in the Moment” is an impossible one. It’s the horizon we all look to, and, this is where my heart breaks, Rufus, at 75 years old, is tirelessly showing us all a way forward.