Rufus Reid

Rufus Reid
Renowned Bassist, Composer, Educator, and Grammy-Nominated Artist
Director, William Paterson Jazz Studies Program, 1979-1999
Retired Professor of Music, William Paterson University

Rufus Reid is one of a handful of true Renaissance figure in the arts. A widely respected bassist, composer, and jazz educator, he has had an active presence in the jazz world since the 1970s. He also served for two decades as William Paterson University’s Director of Jazz Studies, bringing international acclaim to one of the country’s first bachelor of music programs in jazz.

Reid has recorded more than 500 albums, including 25 under his own name, including Terrestrial Dance (2017) and Always in the Moment (2020), released on vinyl by Newvelle Records. His 2022 CD release, Celebration, features the Rufus Reid Trio with the Sirius Quartet, a classical string quartet. Reid can be heard on recordings with Eddie Harris, Dexter Gordon, Andrew Hill, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Quartet, Kenny Barron, Stan Getz, J.J. Johnson, Lee Konitz, Jack DeJohnette, and many others.

As a composer, Reid has written for strings, chamber ensembles, solo bass, jazz ensembles of varying sizes, and symphony orchestras, and has had the privilege of having all of his works performed. In 2008, he received the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for Composition and two MacDowell Colony Grants for composition, among others. His 2014, release, Quiet Pride – The Elizabeth Catlett Project, received two Grammy Award nominations, for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble” and “Best Instrumental Composition.”

His reputation as an educator is equal to that of his musical achievements. His book, The Evolving Bassist, in publication since 1974, remains the industry standard for double bass methodology. In 1979, Reid joined the faculty at William Paterson University as director of jazz studies, where he worked with Martin Krivin, the late professor emeritus of music and coordinator of jazz studies, to develop the University’s bachelor of music program in jazz studies and performance. This program offered the first professional academically accredited bachelor of music in jazz in the area. Reid directed the program for nearly 20 years, retiring in 1999 to pursue his full-time performance and composition career. He continues to teach, conducting master classes, workshops, and residencies around the world.

Reid’s many honors include a Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Society of Bassists, the International Association of Jazz Educators Humanitarian Award, the Downbeat Magazine Jazz Educator Achievement Award, the New Jersey Jazz Society Jazz Leadership Award, the LeJENds of Jazz Education Award from the Jazz Education Network, and a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship Award. He also serves as director of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center's Jazz for Teens.

The Rufus Reid Endowed Scholarship at William Paterson University was established and funded by James Terrile ’87 in honor of his former professor; the scholarship is for a student in good academic standing in the Jazz Studies Program.

Reid is a graduate of Northwestern University with a bachelor of music degree in performance. In 1993, the university presented him with an Alumni Merit Award, given for high achievement in a profession or field.