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Reggie Washington: Groove Instincts

Reggie Washington
Reggie Washington

The scene was much more nurturing 20 years ago,” says bassist Reggie Washington, a former stalwart of the M-Base Collective and a ubiquitous figure on New York’s jazz, funk and creative music scene through the ’80s, ’90s and into the first half of the ’00s. “Older cats took you under their wing and made you learn on the bandstand. Nowadays, there’s no sharing, there’s so much competition and hatin’ … it’s a totally different scene. Cats want to get paid for rehearsals … gigs are for less money, and there are fewer gigs. Times have changed.”

A resident of Belgium for the past three years, the Staten Island native has racked up extensive sideman credits over the years, including a dozen recordings with Steve Coleman and Five Elements and a slew of sessions and tours with the likes of legendary drummer-bandleader Chico Hamilton, vocalist Cassandra Wilson, alto saxophonist Greg Osby, guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly, clarinetist Don Byron and pianist Uri Caine, as well as Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Branford Marsalis’ Buckshot LeFonque and Oliver Lake’s Steel Band. He has also traveled the world music circuit with African drum master Babatunde Olatunji and calypso star Mighty Sparrow and crossed over into the pop world with D’Angelo, Meshell Ndegeocello and Ute Lemper. But the talented bassist had not, until recently, stepped out as a leader in his own right.

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