Tomeka Reid carries jazz into the future with an Ars Nova Workshop concert

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tomeka reid
Tomeka Reid | photo courtesy of the artist

Fresh off of a year spent celebrating its 50th anniversary, it would be easy to view the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) as a landmark of the past, a movement that set jazz on a new course and was absorbed into a redefined mainstream. But the Chicago-based organization continues to spawn new members with fresh perspectives on its “Ancient to the Future” mantra, which takes a far-ranging and open-minded view of the whole of jazz – and music – history as fodder for its sonic experiments.

Cellist Tomeka Reid is one standout among the latter generation, who has worked with founding members like Anthony Braxton as well as more contemporary standard-bearers like flutist Nicole Mitchell and drummer Mike Reed.

Reid’s quartet, which she’ll bring to the Philadelphia Art Alliance on Thursday for an Ars Nova Workshop-presented performance, splits its membership between Chicago and New York, with Reid and bassist Jason Roebke representing the Windy City and guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara making up the east coast contingent.

Halvorson is a particularly apt foil for Reid’s playing, as both share a similarly skewed take on traditional forms. The guitarist is known for her spiky and elastic playing, which seems to warp straightforward musical lines as if through a funhouse mirror. The classically-trained Reid distorts her own elegant playing with a gritty aggression; together with the modernist swing offered by Roebke and Fujiwara, the quartet sounds like the musical equivalent of a classical painting obscured by a layer of fierce but aesthetic scribblings.

Watch Reid perform below; tickets and information for the all ages show can be found here.

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