Rob Reddy grew up on the North Shore of Long Island and began studying piano and composing at an early age under the tutelage of local jazz pianist and composer, Ranny Reeve. Soon after, he began playing saxophone and went on to study with trumpeter Dave Burns, and saxophonists Makanda Ken McIntyre and Dave Liebman.
Since forming his first ensemble in 1989 featuring legendary bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Pheeroan akLaff, Reddy has worked almost exclusively as a leader, with the exception of brief stints with Workman’s ensemble and Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society.
He founded the Reddy Music label in 2006, and released “A Hundred Jumping Devils,” which earned him a Chamber Music America commission. His second release, “The Book of the Storm,” featured an all-star 19-piece ensemble performing the hour-long title piece, commissioned by NYSCA and the Jerome Foundation, at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Reddy has also been awarded commissions and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the American Music Center and received two residencies at TPAC.
His seventh recording, “Bechet: Our Contemporary,” was released on September 11, 2015. The recording of the album is the subject of a full-length documentary by filmmaker David Castillo. Reddy used Sidney Bechet’s original compositions as a point of departure to create this work, intertwining four Bechet compositions with four of his own. Reddy sees this project as an honest and respectful attempt at honoring Bechet’s place in history as a seriously forward-thinking, avant-garde artist of his time, while also putting his work into conversation with our own, present-day sociopolitical landscape.
Reddy’s current projects include “Where’s Marilyn?”, which is a 2015 New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artist commission. This piece delves into Reddy’s experiences growing up in Kings Park, a small Long Island town that supported one of the largest state psychiatric facilities for over 100 years, and explores themes of memory, community, and the politics of mental healthcare.
Reddy will return to the recording studio in July 2016 to record new music for his Citizen Quintet which features longtime collaborators John Carlson – trumpet, Brandon Ross – guitars, Dom Richards – double bass and Pheeroan akLaff – drums. This recording will be released in Fall 2016.
He is composing new music for his Bechet: Our Contemporary ensemble for which he received a 2015 Chamber Music America New Works Jazz Commission for. This new music will premiere in Fall 2016 and will be recorded live for release on his Reddy Music label.
As well as the aforementioned projects, Reddy is also undertaking his most ambitious work to date over the course of 2016. INTERRUPTION! is a live performance piece composed for a 14 piece ensemble with music by Reddy and libretto written and performed by saxophonist, composer, poet, visual artist and all around renaissance man, Oliver Lake. The title and premise of the piece is taken from a sermon that the Reverend William Barber II gave on July 12, 2015, on the eve of NC NAACP vs McCrory trial in Winston-Salem. A suit that was brought by Reverend Barber, the League of Women Voters, a group of college students and the Department of Justice. When the United States Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 2013 (a 30+ year agenda of Justice Roberts), many states have created sweeping changes in election laws that have, and will continue to deny many Americans access to the voting booth. Reverend Barber took the podium and delivered a potent, political speech calling attention to deliberate attacks on the lives and votes of Black Americans. The premise of Reverend Barber’s sermon comes from Isaiah 58: “Cry out loud, don’t hold back, interrupt the nation.” Barber exhorted the over 10,000 protesters gathered at the state capital, and those watching the news, to engage in “necessary interruption,” saying “The reality is…that the nation needs Interruption, particularly when liturgy or parliamentary procedures become a cover up for injustice.” Not limiting himself to voting rights, Barber called for interruption against police brutality, mass incarceration, capital punishment and even on behalf of the LGBTQ, Native, and immigrant communities. INTERRUPTION! is Reddy and Lake’s response to this powerful speech and their attempt to engage with its issues and form through their respective disciplines of jazz/contemporary composition and spoken word.