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Mike Reed: The World That I'm In


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Some experiences stick with you. They cry out for reflection, for the transfigurative potential of an artistic response. That was the case for Mike Reed, the intrepid Chicago drummer and bandleader, after his harrowing encounter with white supremacists in 2009.

Reed was on tour in Eastern Europe with his flagship band, People, Places & Things. While passing through the Czech Republic by train, they were menaced by a gaggle of neo-Nazi skinheads, narrowly escaping harm through the intervention of riot police. Later, mulling over these events, Reed decided to create a suite called Flesh & Bone. After its concert premiere at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015, it was released as an album last year, and captured by Jazz Night in America at Reed’s venue, Constellation, in Chicago.

Jazz Night in America asked Reed to recount that instigating flare of racial tension, which hasn’t lost any of its relevance in the years since. “It’s not that I want to sensationalize this thing that happened,” he says. “I believe the greatest things that we can make [are] derived from our own experiences, or our ability to look at experiences.”

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