8 bars with Reggie Quinerly
Our guest is drummer, composer, and educator Reggie Quinerly.
8 bars with, is a series on Educated Guesses where we offer up 8 questions to a special guest for them to ponder and freestyle on. The questions aren't necessarily questions as much as they are prompts or linguistic ink blots meant to stimulate thought. The responses can be short and pithy, long and loquacious or somewhere in between.
Reggie Quinerly came to New York City from Houston in 2001 in a wave that included his high school alumni Robert Glasper and Jason Moran. Quinerly studied with drummers Jimmy Cobb, Lewis Nash, and Kenny Washington at Mannes School of Music, earned his Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from Julliard, and returned there to teach in 2017, and joined the faculty at Hunter College in 2019. He’s worked as a sideman with a number of jazz stars, including Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano and Greg Osby. He released his first recording as a leader, Music Inspired by Freedmantown (a historic, 19th century, all-Black enclave in Houston) in 2012, followed by Invictus, Words to Love, and his latest, New York Nowhere. He moved to California in 2020.
I believe drummers are absolutely vital to the survival of the human species, Ha! But seriously, from a historical perspective, drummers have been responsible for preserving and passing down traditional rhythms in various cultures for centuries. We are an extension of the heartbeat, and our charge has always been to combine the complex with the visceral to make the people feel something. No matter what style, tempo or genre associated with the rhythm, drummers must make it dance!
2. High School for the Performing and Visual Arts?
This school allowed me to be surrounded by like-minded young people that were motivated to use their artistic abilities to affect change. The young talents I met made the decision early to accept that art was transformative for the audience as well as the practitioner. I consider myself grateful for the time and relationships this school provided.
3. Horace Silver?
One of the best to ever do it! He combined certain musical influences in a way that I still have never heard from any other piano player. His sense of groove was absolutely unmatched. Underneath this burning groove sat a calm, suave, collected vibe. That’s what made his music so hip to me: his ability to sustain this slow boil without losing its focus. But when he was ready to take flight, WATCH OUT!
4. Hunter College?
A very unique and special New York institution. Hunter College was responsible for knocking down so many barriers in the field of education from the very beginning. It has afforded so many the opportunity to have a dynamic educational foundation. I’ve learned so much from a great group of teachers and students! Big shoutout to Ryan Keberle, who runs the Jazz Department, and represents the younger generation of dynamic players/educators maintaining a standard of excellence at historic institutions of higher learning.
A logical response to the sociopolitical climate of the day. The African spirit of collectivism played out in a still emerging country. One of the hardest things to wrap our minds around is just how new this land was (and still is) to its non-native inhabitants. Houston was formally founded less than three decades before the Civil War, which is vying to control the way of life for current and future residents of the region. Freedmantown rises out of the ashes of that conflict to show us the power of pulling together our resources for the greater good.
Composition is a study in the limitless nature of music. It’s always an ongoing study of mine, but I must admit I never realized just how much this process would teach me about myself. Sound, vibrations, intentions and emotions…. It’s all there waiting to be discovered.
7. Los Angeles?
A city of new possibilities. This city has reminded me that dreams can never be confined to one geographic location. Let your thoughts determine where you can go instead of letting where you go only determine your thoughts.
8. Stix Hooper?
A true chameleon. He has been involved with so many facets of this industry it really is quite remarkable. I am most inspired by the idea that we came from the same fertile Texas soil. Although we are generations apart, I have always felt a kinship with the Jazz Crusaders. I relate to the sound and soul projected in their music. Hearing their records underscored the importance of bringing all of my influences to the table. I personally have to thank him for that. Mr. Hooper is music royalty of the highest order.
Ha! Solos are nutrients for the soul … This reminds me that I need to write some more music for the cats! Excuse me while I go find some staff paper, a piano and a quiet corner….