Nat Reeves has built a successful career touring the world with some of the most important figures in jazz in the last half-century. His work as a prominent educator at The Hartt School, Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz has spanned over 30 years. As a bassist, he is regarded as a precise accompanist, known for his impeccable time, deep tones and great earthy, organic sound. As an educator, Professor Reeves mentors some of the future greats of jazz.
While living in New York City early in his career, two events occurred in 1982 that would change Nat’s destiny forever. Reeves traveled for the first time out of the US to Japan with Sonny Stitt, James Williams and Vinnie Johnson. It was Sonny’s last tour and an experience he will never forget. At the same time, Professor Reeves moved to Hartford, Connecticut and started working with Jackie McLean, to this day the most significant musical influence in his life. Reeves began teaching at the University of Hartford and the Artists Collective. Jackie McLean was the major inspiration of the jazz program at The Hartt School and Jackie and his wife, Dollie, founded the Artists Collective, an arts organization in Hartford. Professor Reeves found a calling in teaching and developed his musical skills while traveling throughout the world performing and recording with Jackie McLean, who initiated him into the world of jazz greats. He performs on five of Jackie’s recordings, Dynasty (Triloka, 1988); Rites of Passage (Triloka, 1991), J Mac Attack (J.F.D Productions, 1991), Rhythm of the Earth (Dreyfus, 1992) and Hat Trick (EMI, 1996).
In 1994, Reeves started touring and recording with Kenny Garrett. He and Kenny first met in the late seventies in New York City. Reeves is on Kenny’s first recording Introducing Kenny Garrett (Cross Cross, 1984), featuring Woody Shaw. Performing with Kenny Garrett allowed Reeves to further expand his soloing skills and taught him the importance of diverse musical collaborations in an ever-changing setting of musicians and venues. Out of a mutually respectful musical relationship, there developed a friendship that exists today. Nat is on two of Kenny’s Grammy nominated recordings, Songbook (Warner Bros, 1997) and Seeds from the Underground (Mack Avenue, 2012).
In addition to performing with Jackie McLean and Kenny Garrett, Professor Reeves performed with such greats as tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson, trumpeter Donald Byrd, drummer Art Taylor and pianists Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Kirkland, Walter Davis, Walter Bishop, Larry Willis and Kenny drew. In recent times Reeves has worked and recorded with many of the who’s who of jazz including tenor-saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, George Coleman and Eric Alexander, trombonist Steve Davis , pianists at major jazz venue Harold Mabern, George Cables, David Hazeltine and Anthony Wonsey, and drummer Joe Farnsworth among many others. Professor Reeves has performed at all the major jazz venues and festivals throughout the world.
In May 2015, Professor Reeves was honored by the University of Hartford with the Bent Award for his scholarly and artistic creativity. President Harrison is quoted as saying that the award “is given each year to a faculty member who has displayed unusual creativity and innovation in the pursuit of his or her scholarship.” He continued his award presentation by stating that Professor Reeves’ “contributions in this regard bring great credit to the University of Hartford and constitute a model of what we expect of our finest faculty members.”
As a prominent resident of the City of Hartford, he has become involved in community events and performs and speaks at community schools, churches, nursing homes, gallery openings and political and social gatherings. In 2013, the City of Hartford proclaimed June 22, 2013 as Nat Reeves Day in the City of Hartford. In the proclamation from former Mayor Segarra, it is written that “We, in the Hartford City Government thank and honor Nat Reeves for his music legacy and contributions throughout the world.”
Nat credits his accomplishments to experiences acquired performing, touring and recording with many of the most important musicians of our time. He has performed at all the major jazz venues in the world and on over sixty recordings.
Today, Nat is committed to Jackie McLean’s legacy at The Hartt School, as well as continuing his career performing. Influenced most by bassists Sam Jones, Paul Chambers and Ron Carter, Nat is a gifted musician, who continues to learn from his colleagues and students.