The Reese Project
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Good musicians take their time crafting new recordings, and they sometimes drop out of sight for short periods of time to recharge their creativity. Here are some top local jazz musicians (along with their venues) who have done both lately:
The Reese Project has a new line-up and is scheduled to release a new CD in September on Dreamscape Records, their new Sugar Daddy label. The Reese Project has accepted invitations for appearances at both the Montreux and Montreal Jazz Festivals in 2005. A tour of England also is in the works for this winter.
The driving force behind The Reese Project's ambitions is flute player and songwriter Tom Reese.
The band's recording from 2000, "Blue Etude," was stunningly good jazz that reached No. 43 on the Gavin National Jazz Charts. So expectations are high for the new music.
The lineup for the July 3 appearance at the Bleveder is Tom Reese, New York organist Dave Lewis and Laurie Haines Reese on cello. Local drummer Aaron Walker and vocalist/saxophonist Paul Atherton will round out the band's touring lineup. Kir Reese, Tom's brother, will play piano on the group's new recording.
- Lancaster Intelligencer Journal


Men like Tom Reese are a rare breed. Renaissance men. Guys that can do it all and never spread too thin. As a jazz flautist, classical flautist, and composer, his concepts and images in music are respectfully timeless. Reese, like a true artisan, relies on heartfelt inspiration to begin his creations. He peers through everyday life and interprets nature in his own graceful compositions. Great thoughts never go out of style, and Reese is driven by the simple basics of life that many of us take for granted.
He tells me in our interview, "I live a life of peace, life is great, and I'm blessed. My approach to jazz is a conversation." The Reese Project's latest album, Blue Etude, is a prime example. Released in 2000, the album is an invigorating and bustling banter between Reese and 10 other musicians; a prominent vibe of friendship abounds within the recording. Blue Etude very curiously pulls the listener in with a baffling diversity of tunes. Approaching the three-minute mark in "Loose Goose Blues," Reese can be heard interjecting his trademark "Yeah" amid a minefield of slick drum fills. Never shy about exposing his enthusiasm, Reese seems to radiate a contagious optimism in every project he graces. The music is inclusive, just like Reese. When I first met him, he was playing at Ellington's in Lancaster and he introduced me to everyone he knew in the room. Beyond being polite, he made sure that I felt comfortable and included. Hes bearing on music is much the same.
Jazz is a brotherhood. Many players and writer I know advise not to venture forth into the world of jazz alone. Reese's consortium is one of artists he can trust with his sketches. "The cats I play with are just an extension of my thought processes," he says. To get a call from Reese means he reveres you as someone exceptional. He met his wife, Laurie Haines Reese, after they played a gig together at the Hershey Hotel. He views Laurie not only as an inspiring partner but as "a professional msuician he can always count on."
Formed in 1990, The Reese Project include Reese on flute and Indian flute, brother Kirk Reese on piano, and rounding out the family, wife Laurie on cello. The Project also features Nashville monster Bobby Brewer on guitar, Johnny DeFrancesco (brother of world-famous organist Joey DeFrancesco) on guitar, Paul Klinefelter on bass, and Glenn Ferracone on drums. The CD also features a few additional guests: vocalists Anne Sciolla and Jesse Yawn, along with Johannes Dietrich on violin and viola, and Jeff Stabley on congas. The chemistry among these players led the Innervisions' Jazz charts to rate Blue Etude the No. 1 album of 2000 [and 2001]. And it reached No. 43 on Gavin's national radi jazz charts; the CD stayed in the top-60 for five weeks. Live, local performances are a montage of the aforementioned lineup, trimming the group down to a duo at some venues.
Complete article can be seen at www.wyndfallrecords.com/reeseproject. - Fly Magazine


Musician and composer Tom Reese is a man of blues.
No, maybe a folksy man of Irish music.
A classical kind of guy? He definitely is the type of person who can say, "Shakespeare was a brilliant jazz musician" -- and make you believe him.
There is no definitive catch-all label besides musician-composer (and, perhaps, occasional poet). It all depends on where and when you've heard him, or which of his many recordings you may own.
Working within the boundaries of various music styles -- and, sometimes, stretching those boundaries -- "helps me become more in touch with what's around me as a freelance musician," he says. "It helps me be more aware of the world and what the world wants to hear."
Reese'foray into the arts began when an Elizabethtown College professor encouraged his interest in poetry. It still remains a love os his, says Reese, who has pulled together a collection of his verses. "I would be totally satisfied with being a poet of words."
Instead, he has turned to the poetry of music, using it to paint his own sorrows, as in "Lament for Cora Lee" recorded by the Susquehanna Ensemble, a group of Central PA instrumentalists with tastes as eclectic as Reese's. And he has used it for his musings on nature, like "Acorn Waltz" with the Arcona Reel Band or "La Valse de Neige," written during a snowstorm and performed with the Susquehanna Ensemble.
"I often had the whole idea mapped out to convert visual to musical," he says. "I've always been focused to the point where I know pretty much what I want out of the tune before I start."
Reese plays soprano flute and seven other woodwind instruments from around the world -- from the Irish pennywhistle and Italian ocarina to the Chinese bamboo flute and Peruvian pan pipes -- as well as keyboards.
He has been edging toward classical efforts lately, and recently had the chance to play Beethoven's Mass in C with an orchestra. It was, he says, "like the Little League slugger meeting Mickey Mantle."
When it's a truly great piece, written by an inspired composer, playing the score can be like meeting part of the composer in person.
"When I was inside of it, playing with the orchestra, the sound ... it was exciting. You can touch him. A voice is added, it's collective, and you're part of a powerful spirit.
"Nothing I've ever heard is as important as Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, Debussy. I'm learning, from listening to classical music, how to write music. And the style doesn't matter."
Now, after years of writing music for solo instruments, ensembles and bands of all types, Reese thinks he knows what his biggest opus will be.
It's a concerto for his wife, cellist Laurie Haines Reese. "Without Laurie, I wouldn't have any of this," Reese says. "I wouldn't have the ambition to do this with my skills, and she inspires it."
But he doesn't bring Laurie in to test newly written passages. "I don't want to use my wife as a tool to write this," he says. "When she plays it, I want it to be spiritual. I want her to be inside it and make it hers."
Writing the concerto will be "four years of my life," he predicts, "and it'll probably be the most important thing of my life."
- Central PA Magazine


Tom Reese is like a poet, writing the language of music with his flute.
“It’s free-form; there is no wrong,” he told a crowd of student musicians gathered in the auditorium of Apollo Middle School Nov. 6. “This is you, expressing yourself.”
His band, a Pennsylvania-based jazz quartet called the Reese Project, performed for more than 100 students last week. The foursome then presented the youngsters with a daunting challenge: Using the notes they’d already learned that morning and in class, they were to play in unison without a musical script.
Jazz, he told the students, has a “basic literature.” Once that’s been learned, the rest should come from inside, he said.
It was a concept that appealed to seventh-grader Hayden Welch, who has been studying the clarinet for two years and sees a musical career in her future.
“We’re just learning improv,” she said, her eyes wide. “I’d say I’m pretty good.”
Some of the students weren’t quite as serious. One boy found the oversized brass bell of his slide trombone made a nice hat. Another picked attentively at his saxophone’s neck strap. Still, others were bobbing their heads and tapping their feet to the music.
“Now, I want you to play any notes you want in a certain rhythm,” Reese told the students as the workshop came to an end. “This is free. It’s soul.”
Apollo music teacher Bruce Trojan agreed.
“Improv is spontaneous composition,” he said. “But everybody can learn how to do it.”
It may have been the first time the students were being told to abandon the rules, especially by a man who, with his broad build and long gray ponytail, looks more like ‘70s classic rocker David Crosby than jazz great Miles Davis. Reese has been playing the flute – what he calls his “axe” for 32 years and still practices, or “woodsheds,” for two hours each day.
His band’s latest collection, “Blue Etude,” features a drummer, a pianist and his wife, Laurie, a cellist.
The album is being sponsored by the Commission Project, a non-profit Rochester agency that arranges for artist residencies in participating schools. The group contacted Trojan about Reese, and the middle-school teacher welcomed the idea of an improvisational jazz workshop.
“They’re learning improv now, and I thought it would be good for them to hear it from someone other than me,“ Trojan said of his students.
On-the-fly playing puts musicians better in touch with their own rhythms and each other., Reese said. It’s a matter of creating sounds in an order that just seems right, rather than by following a written plan.
Reese made jokes throughout his presentation, poking fun at popular music: “the only time I’ll ‘rap’ is a Christmas time.”
He taught the crowd some jazz jargon: “That was a ‘cool ride,’” he said after one particularly rousing set. And, for the benefit of his young charges, he often spoke in sounds rather than words.
“The first one is ‘da, da, daaa,” and the second one is ‘da, daaaa,’” he said, giving the students a melody to play while the Reese Project performed a spontaneous number. “I learned English for no reason at all.”
- Greece (New York) Post 11/14/02


Andrew Gerofsky decided to go out on a limb for some of his customers.
He put away the ashtrays at the bar and proclaimed Wednesday night smoke-free at Alois Restaurant at Bube’s Brewery, 102 N. Market Street, Mount Joy.
To celebrate his experiment, he booked the Tom Reese Project, a local jazz band. And while jazz is typically associated with smoky barrooms, the smoke-free night was a big success, with a full bar and appreciative comments like “It felt good to be at a bar to eat and not taste smoke in my food.”
Gerofsky said he wants to give people the option of not having to sit in a smoke-filled room. To that end, he’d like to offer the same band on different nights of the week so everyone has a choice.
“I’m treadig lightly on Wednesdays at first because I have to prove that this will be viable to the business.”
Is so, he said he’ll start booking bands for every smoke-free Wednesday.
He’s scheduled Tom Reese for April 16, and Gerofsky said he is planning on booking more bands immediately.
- Lancaster Sunday News 3-23-03


Some of the best blues musicians in the region will be in the spotlight on September 17, when a Blues Summit is held at L.C. Jordan's in Elizabethtown. The event is sponsored by Horseplay Records, out of Lewisberry.
Audiences will be treated to a mix of blues standards, jazz standards and original tunes at the show, says Tom Reese, who is organizing the event. With Reese on flute, the lineup features Dave Maxwell on piano, Johnny DeFrancesco on guitar, Paul Klinefelter on bass and Glenn Ferracone on drums. Each musician has extensive and impressive experience, including Maxwell, who has spent time gigging with the house band on "Late Nights with Conan O'Brien." Along with stanards, the show will feature original music. "We'll do some of Dave's originals. We'll probably do some of mine, but it will be mostly blues standards and jazz standards," Reese notes.
This is the second such event that has been held locally. The first one, held over Memorial Day weekend at L.C. Jordan's, was a huge success, featuring a packed house. "People were there 'til 3:30 [am], in shock, last time," Reese says, addig that audiences can expect to be treated to "high-level blues jazz. They can expect a lot of high energy music from world-class musicians." They can also expect a listenable show: "It's not real loud, either. It's not going to burn anyone's brains." Along with performing at the Blues Summit, the lineup will convene for an album on Horseplay Records, due out this fall, Reese says.
- Fly Magazine


The Reese Project is indeed a family affair, made up of flautist Tom Reese (who composes the songs), Kirk Reese on piano and Laurie Haines Reese on cello. The other members are ... You might think from the instrumentation that the Reese Project is oriented to chamber jazz, but this CD will set you straight. The Reese Project is everything from blues (the concentration here) to bop to funk, and in each style they are more than adept and quite frequently sublime.

The album starts with a funky, down-home groove, but then there's a complex chord that lets us know we're listening to JAZZ, and the flute comes in, warm and fluffy as a new puppy. Because of the fact that there's no reed to bend, I've always felt that it's difficult to get much passion from a flute, but Tom Reese proves the exception, working wonders with just a column of air, changing that warm puppy into a junkyard dog when the spirit moves him. He's got great chops and can play lightning fast, but also knows when to slow down and let the emotion carry him. Kirk Reese on piano is his equal, as his first solo proves. Block chords lead into some elegant single-note right-hand work, and the level stays high through the CD.

The title track, a duet between Laurie Haines Reese and guitarist Bobby Brewer, is a glorious piece of music, and whether or not it's jazz depends on how broad your definition is. Mine is VERY broad. Still, this has more to do with Bach than bop, with interweaving lines between cello and guitar. It has a stark, spare, minimalist sound, with rich dissonances that slowly resolve themselves. A guitar/cello duet isn't something you expect in a jazz album, and its appearance here is in startlingly beautiful contrast to the rest of the music. Jazz is, after all, about surprise, and too often it's unsurprising. Not in this case.

"Blue Etude" more than fulfills the promise of the Reese Project's earlier work. It's a fine hour of beautifully recorded jazz that offers creative compositions, tight performances and eye-opening surprises. And that's what the best jazz is all about.

See complete review at: www.rambles.net/reese_blueetude.html
- Rambles.net


by Toby Knapp
It's been said that art imitates life. Check out the latest disc from The Reese Project and you'll see how.
You'll also hear one of the most impressive modern jazz projects in the country ... which incidentally ... comes from a small town in Lancaster County.
"I approached [the project] like a storyboard," says Tom Reese, who plays the flute and composed all the selections on the disc. "Like Miles Davis, I got good jazz players to play jazz songs with rudimentary jazz tunes and took the best stuff."
So, why is this man from Mt. Joy and his jazz getting national attention?
It really is that good.
All songs on "Blue Etude" radiate a very personal feeling and invoke emotion ... the same emotions Reese felt when writing and composing the project. All the songs relate -- in some way -- to Reese's life. From "Levi's Blues," which Reese wrote for his parrot Levi, to the moving and heartfelt "Key to Your Heart," which Reese wrote as a tribute to his second failed marriage. The entire project is incredibly upbeat and, as Reese says, "lighthearted."
"It's all designed to be enjoyable," says Reese when asked to sum up the project. "It has a universal appeal. It's very hip."
It's hip, it's local, and it's for jazz fans everywhere.
- The Fly Magazine


Discography

1. Eastern Standard Time (Sept ‘09), In the Groove Records – 6 jazz standards & 6 originals
2. This Just In (2008), In the Groove Records – received radio airplay nationally
3. Vicodin Dreams (2005), 95 North – reached #53 on JazzWeek charts; in the top 60 for two months
4. Blue Etude (2000), Wyndfall Records – top 20 in the 2002 Grammies & 5 #1 hits
5. Apocalyptic Hayride (2004), Wyndfall – on WRTI’s Hot 11 for an unprecedented three months
6. Dark Kat (2003), Wyndfall – features flute, sax, piano, cello & drums
7. Viewpoints (1997), MMC Recordings – half jazz & half classical; on Amazon’s Best Seller List

Photos

Bio

'...music that rocks, pops and plays it cool' (Guitar World)

The Reese Project (TRP) plays lively music that rocks, pops & plays it cool; mesmerizing to watch with a funky, Monk-rocks out flavor like Bach having lunch with BB King. TRP includes something for every musical taste, from jazz, blues, & funk to celtic & classical music. Mesmerizing to watch, this unique quartet combines flute, cello, guitar & drums. Gorgeous compositions weave elements from around the world into up-tempo, high energy music and haunting sounds that flow from calypso to waltz feels. They're appealing to see & hear (listen for Tom's trademark "Yeah!") and have played to sold out venues & multiple standing ovations. The unique instrumentation of the group & their "outside of the box" approach has critics raving with their fresh approach. A "must see," The Reese Project will leave you wanting more & more.

Tom Reese (flutes) plays highly-charged, soaring flute lines that carve new sounds out of traditional forms, infusing the music with quotes from rock to pop. Laurie Haines Reese (cello) adds a unique flavor to the band with the electric cello. Her shredding sound and acoustic bass lines compliment the creative edge in the original works as well as the standards. Bobby Brewer (guitar) sends the band stomping & growling into the aether. His bluesy vocal style brings a new element into the mix. Aaron Walker (drums) captures the motion in the rhythms and drives the sound.

With a nod to past masters, the original jazz created within this group of musicians steps in a new direction, while staying squarely within the boundaries of real jazz. It's definitely music for fresh ears. Performing everything from jazz standards to funk, blues, rock covers, classical music & originals, The Reese Project includes something for everyone -- from Bach to the Beatles. They have played to packed houses throughout the US & Canada (even in a major snow storm!).

Their influences include Miles, Coltrane, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Mark O'Connor, Yo Yo Ma, Modeski Martin & Wood, John Scofield, Pat Methany, Ellington, Monk, Grisman, Grapelli, Turtle Island & Kronos String Quartets, and classic rock bands.

"I caught three fabulous acts Sunday at the Lancaster Jazz Festival. The headliner, Kurt Elling, kept the listeners there, but for my tastes, the second act, The Reese Project, stole the show. This unique combination with a soloing cello playing bass lines, amazing soloist Tom Reese making the flute viable as a jazz instrument & soaring vocals by veteran vocalist Ron Smith proved that unique instrumentation equals great jazz" (Logan McKinney, "New Waves in Radio").

Band members have worked with Les Brown, Petula Clark, Stanley Clarke, Norm Crosby, Jay Daversa, Gloria Estefan, Larry Gatlin, Robert Gordon, Charlie Grace, John Guerin, Phil Harris, Roger Kelloway, Tom Larsen, Jerry Lewis, Melissa Manchester, Henry Mancini, Chuck Mangione, Shelly Manne, Valery Pomoronov, Jerry Reed, Jeanne C. Riley, Chita Rivera, Bobby Rydell, Ira Sullivan, BJ Thomas, Rufus Thomas, & others.