SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. – Vernon Reid, one of the world's great guitarists and a legendary exponent of the New York downtown music scene, has finished work on the second Vernon Reid & Masque album. Titled Other True Self, it is his third "solo" album in all. The self-produced CD is set for April 18 release on Favored Nations Recordings.
Reid, who has just returned from U.S. and global tours with his mothership group Living Colour, will look to the spring and summer for U.S. tour dates with Masque, his band of accomplished New York players.
On Other True Self, he exposes a vivid personal landscape. Each track illuminates one or another side of Vernon Reid: his African lineage in "Prof. Bebey," the Latin flavor of the melodies he casts over Hank Schroy's bass pulse and Don McKenzie's crisp reggae rhythm bed in "Flatbush and Church Revisited," the exhilaration of his unison sprint with keyboardist Leon Gruenbaum on "Game is Rigged," the swirling Middle Eastern energies in "Mind of My Mind."
In addition to many new Reid originals, the album features material written by Masque band members. Gruenbaum contributed "White Face," a heavy, wall-of-guitar rocker in a slow 6/8, while McKenzie created "Kizzy," a slow-turning mobile of glittering sounds. Schroy wrote the enigmatic and abstract "Oxossi."
Speaking of Masque, Reid says, "Chemistry is so important. When you're around great musicians, it can improve what you do. Leon, for example, pushes me because he's such a phenomenal musician. He brings out the best in me. Now, when you can have wonderful musicians who fight for every scrap of space, the music will feel like that. But there's also something to be said about spending time with that challenge. Playing at a high level is a challenge. And when the guys in the band all enjoy what the other guys are doing, that can create something fantastic."
The album also offers three cover songs: The Tony Williams Lifetime's "Wild Life," Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" and Radiohead's "National Anthem."
In his life outside the worlds of Masque and Living Colour, Reid has busied himself with scoring. He just completed work on the Lions Gate film Five Fingers starring Laurence Fishburne. He also scored the forthcoming PBS documentary Almost Home and a soon-to-be-released horror film, Shadow: Dead Riot.
Reid was also an omnipresence at the recent New York Guitar Festival. "My relationship with the guitar is not ambivalent at all," he states. "After having played it for so long, everything I do now comes down to getting the body, the mind, the heart, and the ear to all work together. I know I can execute certain things with more finesse, but what counts more is that my playing is tied completely to the moment I'm in."
And on Other True Self, the moment is worth sharing.