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Mike Reed has a foot in two musical worlds. He does heavy lifting each year to bring bands to the annual music festival hosted by - that's an indie rock Web site. Reed also leads two jazz bands in Chicago. His quartet, People, Places and Things, has just released its second record.

Reviewer Peter Margasak says it's obvious that Reed has been listening to a lot more than indie rock.

PETER MARGASAK: It's a wonder Mike Reed has time to get behind his drum kit at all, let alone lead two of the city's best bands. When he's not booking indie rock groups, dealing with agents, organizing travel or handling logistics for the Pitchfork Festival, Reed turns to his primary love: jazz.


MARGASAK: While his quintet, Loose Assembly, plays heavily improvised contemporary music, his quartet, People, Places and Things, has always embraced a strong historical current.


MARGASAK: When Reed started People, Places and Things, he was determined to pay homage to forgotten or overlooked Chicago music from six decades ago. And, indeed, the group's first album focused on tunes associated with the likes of bassist Wilbur Ware, saxophonist John Jenkins and drummer Wilbur Campbell, quintessential Chicago artists who play on classic recordings, yet who never made it big.

Their music was at once progressive and timeless, embracing the hard-charging energy and complexity of bebop while retaining the city's trademark blues sound. Reed continues to honor that spirit with his new release, "About Us."


MARGASAK: That's the big, brawny, tenor sound of David Boykin, one of Chicago's most fiercely independent and sonically ferocious players. Yet as intense and free as his music can get, he remains deeply connected to jazz's tap root.


MARGASAK: It's one of several pieces on the new album made with leading lights of Chicago's contemporary scene. After visiting the city's musical past on his debut, Reed uses the new album to focus on pieces written by group members and their guests. Another of those is written by guitarist Jeff Parker, member of the instrumental rock band Tortoise.


MARGASAK: From the start, Mike Reed never wanted a repertoire band. He created dynamic new arrangements for the old nuggets that drew upon a contemporary vocabulary and emphasized intense group interplay between band members.


MARGASAK: The record title, "About Us," refers to the four members of People, Places and Things, but it also refers to Chicagoans past and present, and in the music, you can hear those generations coming together to look ahead.


BLOCK: Peter Margasak is a music critic for the Chicago Reader. He was reviewing the album "About Us," from Mike Reed's quartet, People, Places and Things.

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