Looking Out

That time of year again

The acclaimed musician is starting his 5th decade in life. So for all those who are fans of Mike Reed, it’s time to listen up. The big four-o has been and gone with a special birthday celebration at the Constellation venue in the north-west. According to Mike himself, he’s not celebrated a birthday since he was the age of 12 and what better way to start up again with after having lived the jazz scene for so long, thank to have a big birthday party and gig. So this was something special indeed. Of course the living icon himself played with his assembles People, Places and Things. There were also some special guests attending such as DJ Damon Locks & Wayne Montana, and others.
There is no reason to worry if you missed this cosmic event, Mike Reed will be out touring the whole season, all the way to the end of August this year. The tour which is already on the way, is currently going though Canada, and if you check his website you can see the exact dates and locations. Later on the tour, closer to the end there will be a row of shows in and around with the People, Places and Things crew showing what their long project work has amounted to. The fusion of old and new, in their own way will be presented in a fresh scenario and sound. Be sure not to miss this one.

About some of his Projects

We just want to tell you a bit more about this wonderful musician Mike Reed. Having been part of the vibrant and ever evolving jazz scene for over soon 3 decades his talents are well known and renowned. Starting in 1997 Mike Reed has played, produced and brought so much to the music within the jazz and improvisation genre. Not only is he a fabulous drummer, but a wonderful performer, with an abundance of energy.

Throughout his career he has performed locally with names like Fred Anderson and Nichole Mitchell amongst others. He has also worked with several well known Jazz legends out of the scene such as Ira Sullivan and Art Hoyle. On a side not as well, by the 57th annual Downbeat critics he received distinction being called “rising jazz star” and was named in 2008 for Jazz.

imagesCurrently Mike Reed leads 3 well known jazz bands. The first one is Loose Assembly, with whom he recorded Empathetic Parts. This is a rare and special recording featuring the legendary Roscoe Mitchell. Just for reference, Roscoe is a founding member of both the Art Ensemble and the AACM. In performance with Roscoe they used a method which Mike Reed calls collective arranging. A method in which the band are improvising, and the music is created as a whole, spontaneously by all the musicians. Together with Mike Reed on the drums in Loose Assembly, there is Greg Ward, their amazing saxophonist, Tomeka Reid as the cellist, Jason Adasiewicz as the vibraphonist and bassist Josha Abrams. Loose Assembly was called one of the foremost and sublime jazz ensembles by Time Out.

The second one is People, Places & Things. Which is a quartet who focus on trying to show and present things from the jazz scene in 1954-1960, things which did not get recognised at the time due to the major boom in the scene. Here we also have Greg Ward on the saxophone (alto), as well as Tim Haldeman (tenor). On the double bass you find Jason Roebke and of course on the drums you find Mike Reed himself. Combining music from this classical era with new compositions means that influences, style and mood in the music shines though whilst using the vast music language available today. It’s a brilliant band, and a great feeling to their music.

The third band is Living by Lanterns, in this project Mike Reed set out to create a performance based on 700 hours of material, which the sun ra/el saturn audio collection contains. This is of course no easy feat, and Mike in this worked with Jason Adasiewicz to take the possibilities of the unrefined material. Allow for exploration and for new composition to form, testing ideas and approaches to the material. In order to best open up the possibilities Mike Reed involved five young musicians to the Loose Assembly group resulting in the mixture of the scene and the New York scene. The music from this band is original to say the least, and the mixture of input is clear, and you can hear the variety and creativity in their wonderful sound. Other than the priory mentioned band members of Loose Assembly, you here also have Taylor Ho Bytnun on cornet, Ingrid Laubrock as a tenor saxophonist, Mary Halvorson on guitar and second drummer Tomas Fujiwara.

More about People, Places & Things

peopleplacesthings_wide-892a9df1a656f4ffa4506e24527bc6d323d682f1-s6-c30As mentioned before, one of the projects that Mike Reed leads is the group People, Places & Things. This group devoted themselves to exploring the jazz legacy which had not come to light in more popular culture. Mike Reed himself says that the reason they choose this era, the 50s, is that there was a piece of the puzzle missing in the cultural history of jazz here. A gap that needed to be filled, partially created by the fact that some of the bigger names at the time like Clifford Jordan and Wilbur Ware moved to New York, which dampened the scene at this time, not only for but for Philadelphia and Detroit as well. Of course the jazz culture at the time rebuilt itself, and improvised music was up to speed again in the 60’s.

Now the reason why the music from this area is only used as inspiration or refreshed in some way is simply due to the fact that it was fresh when it first came out, when it was first made. Mike Reed said himself that it will be obvious to anyone who is listening to the music that there will be spirit missing if one does not make it fresh today. It needs to be as fresh today as it was in the moment of its first creation.

The band was never meant to be a cover band, or a repertory band. The music is not originally made, but it is originally recomposed. A metaphor Mike Reed used to describe it is that it’s their tunes, like wearing someone else’s suit, but letting it in or out so it perfectly fits you.

If you ever get opportunity to see these guys play, we much recommend it. It’s a fully original sound which brings you back to that which was, but sounds new and fresh.

Mike Reed said that although the cultural part and the history of this music is very important, it’s not the most important. The audience does not have to know where it came from and why to be able to like it and enjoy it. The band is very good at what it does, and it comes from this specific are, but for the audience, as long as they like it, that’s all that matters.

Wind pipe and old plumbing left overs for music

There are many great examples of broken pipe and plumbing sounds featuring in musical compositions. Or in improvisation. The surprise and suspense of jazz music is not all that different from the surprises a professional plumber meets with during their day to day work. Our guy over in Manchester is all too familiar with the sound of music as man in the thick of it, and part-time keyboard player, with the clanging and banging of pipes and drains. Loving every bit of the sound. “If Mike’s in town then I’m there”.

simple pipe instrumentSome of the finest composition known are done by the Scandinavians in their innovative use with different sizes pipes and different metals for great sounding percussion. You can explore yourself, the different sounds which your pipe work at home makes. Make sure you explore carefully. You’ll also easily be able to hear the difference between the different varieties that you find.

A plumber expert will be even to tell from a light knock on the metal if there is a potential clog or block there. Clogs make for good music but bad flow at home. When you are done with enjoying the sound of a potential block in your drainage system. Call a local plumber to get rid of the problem quickly and easily. There are no need to take on difficult unblocking tasks yourself when there are experts who can help you quickly and affordably.

There are many projects of home made wind instruments made from different lengths of piping. Usually there are leftovers when a big plumbing job such as a bathroom installation has taken place. For your recent bathroom or kitchen installation, save some of the old scrap and get creative. You can always ask your local plumber, you never know. There may be some hidden musical talent behind the plumbing cap. After all, music is something we share. And should engage with together.

Some Background

According to Mike Reed, it’s difficult to say if there is a distinctive style, mood or flavour to Jazz. The main reason being that there is so much jazz music, that it’s near impossible to listen to it all, and even more difficult would it be to examine and try to find some sort of distinctive features. Of course it is all part of a bigger cycle, and everything has roots somewhere, and is inspired from something. But as far as the specific taste of jazz, it’s not really something one can say. Due to the wide variety of styles and tastes this city can cater for.

The biggest advantage to the scene, Mike Reed states as the opportunity. The opportunity to be able to do it yourself is something quite rare and beautiful within the scenery. The community here makes it possible for anyone to do what they feel, how they feel, and how they think. There is possibility to explore own ideas and sounds, methods and approaches. There is no commercial jazz industry here. The music are not produced by producers, but by musicians, you gain reputation though your music not though a publicist. And the small record labels that are here are also there for the music, not for the money mechanism. In short, there is no machine there to support you though the struggles, but at the same time there is no machine to place you in a framework box, meaning that you have freedom in expression and creativity here.

6931d7b0eb8aafaeabecc6aa51aab33dThere is less pressure to conform in an artistic way here. Mike Reed describes it more like walking into a room, just to discover that the rest who are there are just a bunch of people just like you. The area which you share, that which you have in common is that you walk your own way. You do the things you want to do in your own way, and use your own head and your own ideas. In saying that however, in this metaphorical room with people just like you, in a sense you are conforming, but not in the more common way of seeing it.

Mike Reed sees much in the future of Jazz as well. Mainly due to this freedom of creativity and due to that there is no industry there. There is not one big shot, or waiting around to be called to play with someone who is already a star. Everyone here are too busy trying to get their own gigs, create their own music, and find their own audience. Of course there is competition, but so far that it goes beyond the music and becomes about something else.


Rather than promoting music, he presents it. Working with events like:
Pitchfork Music Festival which is a 3 day summer festival in Union Park. It’s a highly acclaimed international music festival with over 40 attending bands. Showcasing many new and upcoming artists in the industry and presenting the best there is. This is an independently run festival, promoting local economy and only the best music.
Umbrella Music Festival which is a festival that is organised by a jazz and improvisational music collective. It’s one of the best for cutting edge improvised music. This organisations core revolves around weekly shows done, of which Mike Reed curates the Sundays at, the transmission series, which is located at the hungry brain. The festival is a 4-5 day presentation from this collective.

About this Fan Site

This website has been built to provide a space for fans of Mike Reed and his work. It will also be a platform to share your appreciation for other aspects of jazz and musicians.

Please hold with us while we get the website going and hopefully in the coming weeks there will be lots of great stuff here.

Maybe you’re a musician or maybe you just love music! Either way we want you to be involved so there will be a place for you to share your thoughts and appreciation for all things jazzy…

Get involved, get musical, get thinking. What are your thoughts and what are your comments? We want to know, we want to hear it. Here’s the place, now’s the time.