has been leading his own jazz groups since 1974, when (at the encouragement of instructors Phil Nimmons and Oscar Peterson) he formed a quartet at the inaugural Banff Centre Jazz Workshop to make a Jazz Radio Canada broadcast, the first of many CBC broadcast recordings over the years. He has recorded three commercially available compact discs: Island Shuffle (1993), Caravan (2003), and The Joy Riders (2007). The John Reid Quartet performed at the Havana Jazz Plaza International Festival in December of 2002.
After playing with local rock bands in Calgary, he turned professional in 1971 with the amazing 25-piece Las Vegas-style, Calgary-based show group Stratus Faction that toured North America and did TV shows for CTV and CBC networks. He also toured with territory funk bands in the 70s before completing his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Calgary in 1979.
Reid was awarded the Master of Arts in Jazz History and Research degree at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in 2010 (thesis topic: Dexter Gordon; supervisor: John Coltrane & Lester Young expert, Dr. Lewis Porter).
Reid is also the founder, past chairman and past artistic director of the Calgary International Jazz Festival and founding secretary and past president of the Jazz Calgary society. In those capacities over the years he has presented the likes of: Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, Sun Ra, Buddy Guy, Woody Shaw, Johnny Griffin, Betty Carter, Oliver Jones, Sheila Jordan, Clark Terry, Jim Hall, Lew Tabackin, Akiyoshi/Tabackin Jazz Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Phil Woods, Art Pepper, Herb Ellis, Joe Zawinul/Zawinul Syndicate, Pepper Adams, Joe Henderson, Michel Petrucciani, Tito Puente, Al Cohn & Zoot Sims, the Heath Brothers, Sam Rivers, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Ralph Towner & John Abercrombie, Jack DeJohnette, Tete Montoliu, Mingus Dynasty, and Bobby Hutcherson.
He is partner with young Brazilian jazz pianist and composer, Denis Nassar, in their group: Brazil/Canada Connection.
whose mission was to present jazz works to the public with an emphasis on collaborations among Calgary, Alberta, and Canadian jazz artists. The society has since morphed into Jazz YYC. The John Reid Quintet performs a jazz concert annually as a part of the Instrumental Society of Calgary concert series and has done tributes there to the music of Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Irving Berlin, and Reid also performs regularly in quartet, trio, and duo combinations.
For many years Reid led the Latin-jazz band Caravan, having studied and performed in Cuba.
He is a regular member of “The Cracked Pots” rhythm and blues worship band (led by pianist/vocalist Guy Plecash) at the weekly Celebrate Life Recovery service every Sunday night at 6:00 at Calgary’s Central United Church.
For several years, Reid was music director of the Springbank Big Band, an adult community stage band that toured to Cuba in February 2008 to the 25th Havana Jazz Plaza International Festival, as well as performing in Trinidad-de-Cuba and Cienfuegos, and in New Orleans at the Crescent City Jazz Festival.
Reid plays saxophone, flute, and clarinet with Calgary’s Bluesland Horn Band, which has released four CDs (Let’s Go Dancing, Down in New Orleans, Radio Waves, and Keep It In The Shadows) including three Reid originals. The band performed for the launch of CKUA’s new studios in the National Music Centre in Spring 2016.
In 2013, Reid was one of 35 winners of the National Flute Association (NFA) Jazz Flute Big Band (“recruited” by Ali Ryerson) and performed with the group at the NFA convention in that year at New Orleans. Reid was invited to play with the group at the Jazz Education Network conference in January 2015 in San Diego. Reid was one of 25 winners of the NFA JFBB competition in 2015 and one of 12 soloists selected to play with the group at the Washington, DC convention in August 2015 and at NFA Minneapolis in 2017.
John Reid has played with or accompanied the following artists in his career among others: Dizzy Gillespie and the Saturday Pro Band, Lee Konitz, Hugh Fraser (recorded for CBC), Tom Jones, Phil Nimmons, Della Reese, Don Thompson, Red Skelton, P.J. Perry, Joan Rivers, Senator Tommy Banks and the 1988 Olympic Orchestra, Lou Rawls, Bernie Senensky, Harry Connick Jr., David Friesen, Rosemary Clooney, Ron Paley, Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave), Diana Krall, Brad Turner, Connie Stevens, Bob Brookmeyer and the Saturday Pro Band (at Edmonton’s Jazz City Festival), Mitch Miller, Ben Vereen, Crystal Gayle, Helen Reddy, Fifth Dimension, Joel Grey, Bob Hope, Gino Vanelli, Lesley Gore, Jeff Healey, Johnny Mathis, and Maestro Hans Graf and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra among others. The John Reid Quartet played warm-up for Mel Tormé at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, for the Doc Severinson Orchestra for the CPO in a private home in Calgary, and has performed for Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, Alberta Lieutenant-Governor Lois Hole, and Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau and John Diefenbaker.
He is also the founder and artistic director of the Nebula Repertory Ensemble Association whose purpose is to facilitate musical repertoire explorations and investigations in a repertory ensemble for public performance and to curate, preserve, present, revive, and repeat those expositions in multiple performances where possible. The society was founded in 2019 and has so far presented concerts of the music of The Great American Songbook, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and Cole Porter.
John Reid has taught Jazz History on an annual basis as an Instructor at the Department of Music at the University of Calgary since 1984. He has also taught several other Music History and Literature fine arts option courses there: The History of Funk Music, The History of the Blues, The African Effect in Music, Salsa Music and Latin Music, New York City: Broadway Musicals, Music and Culture; Music and Culture of Havana, Cuba; and has once co-taught The History of Broadway Musicals with Prof. Kenneth Delong.
Reid developed a particular interest in the music of Cuba following several trips there between 2002 and 2008, has led tours to Cuba as Resource Person for the University of Calgary Continuing Education and Music departments and has had the honour of being called a “flautista Cubano” (Cuban flute player) by some fine Cuban musicians. He has also led tour groups to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (2012) and the Chicago Blues Festival (2014).
February 17, 2022