Nat Reeves

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For more than 40 years, Nat Reeves has been one of the top bassists in jazz. His supportive and stimulating playing has uplifted a countless number of sessions and recording dates (most notably with the great altoists Jackie McLean and Kenny Garrett) and he has led his own recordings State of Emergency and Blue Ridge. Both as a performer and an educator, he has made a strong impact on the jazz world.

“As a bassist it is my function to concentrate on the band’s foundation. To become a better bass player and learn more about the instrument, I started listening to jazz. In jazz there is much more freedom to create one’s own bass part and develop a distinct sound. It is my job to project more than my notes and always sound fresh and alive.”

In 1979, Nat moved to New York City. “I listened, played on the streets, listened some more, and learned.” He first toured with Sonny Stitt in 1982 in Japan during what would be the great saxophonist’s last tour. The same year he met Jackie McLean, who became his mentor.  Soon after, he began teaching at the University of Hartford and touring the world with Jackie McLean and other Jazz masters, including Kenny Garrett, Harold Mabern, Eddie Henderson, Steve Davis, Eric Alexander, Rene McLean and most recently Pharoah Sanders.

In 2001 Nat began a full-time teaching career at The Hartt School, Jackie McLean Institute. “I build on what my students already know and try to convince them to be more aggressive with learning. I think of teaching like playing a gig: being well organized, accomplishing goals and solving problems. It is a lot of fun, and it makes me a better musician.” Although Nat retired from the University in 2021, he continues to perform and teach.  Nat’s performance career is supercharged.  “I’m excited for what is ahead.”


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