Vernon Reid

Guitarist and composer Vernon Reid is a true artist, one whose art is a work forever in progress, from his formative years on the downtown New York jazz-funk-punk scene with Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society, to his leadership of the pioneering multi-platinum rock band Living Colour, to his collaborations with creative spirits that range from musicians to choreographers and filmmakers.

Reid founded Living Colour in New York City circa 1985 and piloted the band through a remarkable career. Among the highlights: a double platinum-selling debut album Vivid; its gold-certified successor, Time's Up; two consecutive Grammy Awards in the category “Best Hard Rock Performance”; opening for the Rolling Stones’ 1989 Steel Wheels tour; and appearing on the first Lollapalooza tour in the summer of 1991. Living Colour reunited in 2000, released a new album, CollideØscope, and continues to tour around the world.

In addition to Living Colour, Reid has been engaged with his usual panoply of activities, including recording solo and collaborative albums, organizing varied concert events, performing as a featured guitarist, and composing for dance and film. In 1996 he released Mistaken Identity, his first solo album, and collaborated with choreographers Bill T. Jones on Still/Here and Donald Byrd on Jazztrain. He performed “Party ‘Til the End of Time” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with The Roots, ending the millennium tribute that featured music from Prince’s album 1999. Reid has also produced two Grammy nominated albums: Papa by African singer Salif Keita and Memphis Blood: The Sun Studio Sessions by James “Blood” Ulmer.

Reid, along with DJ Logic under the moniker “The Yohimbe Brothers,” released Front End Lifter in 2002, and a second album, The Tao of Yo in 2004. Reid’s first album with his quartet, Masque (Leon Gruenbaum, keyboards; Hank Schroy, bass; and Don McKenzie, drums), titled Known Unknown, was released in 2004 on Favored Nations. Their newest album, Other True Self, was released in 2006.

Reid has recently been collaborating with Jamaaladeen Tacuma and G. Calvin Weston in a free improvisation trio grounded in funk and rock called Free Form Funky Freqs; their album, Urban Mythology Vol. One, was released in 2007. Reid has also contributed to various film projects, including Paid In Full (directed by Charles Stone III) and Dr. Hugo (a short film by Kasi Lemmons), as well as the documentaries Ghosts of Attica and That’s My Face. Reid served as music supervisor for the film Mr. 3000, starring Bernie Mac, and has recently completed scores for Five Fingers, produced by and starring Laurence Fishburne; Shadow: Dead Riot; and the PBS documentary Almost Home.

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Jessye Norman