VERNON REID & MASQUE: KNOWN UNKNOWN,

Vernon Reid, best known as guitarist/songwriter in the band Living Colour, has signed with Favored Nations and is preparing for the May 4 street date of his latest "solo" project, Known Unknown.


Vernon Reid by Miso Poljak
In fact part of the band Vernon Reid & Masque, Reid makes a departure from the vocal rock outings of Living Colour, hearkening back to his origins in the New York avant garde scene, smashing musical preconceptions and conventions.

It is this Vernon Reid who has collaborated with such greats as Public Enemy, Mick Jagger, Carlos Santana, and The Roots; who produced albums by James "Blood" Ulmer and Salief Keita; and composes soundtracks for film, theater, and dance.

Reid's signature scratch and growl guitar opens the album's title track. From there, he gears to deliver the Bitches Brew improvisational freak-out of "Down & Out In Kigali and Freetown." In the "Outskirts," he turns to surf guitar and modal jazz. Finally, in "Flatbush & Church," he brings it back to the Vernon Reid that many fans know. Reid is the chief architect behind this innovative sonic landscape--he is part guitar player and part visionary artist.

Reid recorded Known Unknown in New York over a two-year period between touring and other commitments. It's composed of nuanced studio sessions and live takes, containing both originals and what Reid calls "fractured standards" like the band's treatment of Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners" and Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder." According to Reid, "I think of Masque as a component part of my life's expression."

Known Unknown draws in on the New York underground's finest players. Both Hank Schroy (bass) and Leon Gruenbaum (keyboards including the custom-built Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee) have worked with Reid since Masque's debut album, Mistaken Identity. Drummer Marlon Browden comes fresh from recent work with jazz guitar legend John Scofield. Together, the three are a fearsome force who act as tour guides through this strange unknown world.

They are joined by Downtown mainstay DJ Logic, who provides cuts and scratches for the groove-heavy "Voodoo Pimp Stroll."

Reid and Favored Nations founder (and guitar legend) Steve Vai have been friends for years and both are thrilled to have Masque as part of the label's lineup. Says Reid, "Steve is astounding in ways words can't articulate."

Living Colour remains together and Reid is presently on tour with the band through Europe. When he returns, Masque will begin to tour North America.

Early dates include the following with many more to follow:

5.20 | Johnny D's | Boston, MA
5.22 | Montage Grille | Rochester, NY
5.24 | Colisee Des Bois-france | Victoriaville, Que

JamBase | New York
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[Published on: 3/10/04]

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