Saturday, January 28, 2006

Vernon Reid

“Masque is about identity: Who am I? Really, that question has informed everything I’ve done, from the beginning of my solo career.” Vernon Reid is speaking one recent morning as his band bus idles outside the hotel. The night before, of course, anyone in the crowd would have had no trouble answering his query: He is, among other things, a profound instrumentalist, one of the world’s great guitarists — a player so advanced, in fact, that the estimable Robert Fripp has admitted to aspiring to meet Reid’s standards “as a guitarist, musician, and human being.”More than that: He is also a visual artist, who at this point was spending every spare moment with his laptop, finessing the digital works to be displayed right after Christmas in a New York gallery. He’s a poet and essayist, a film composer, a father and husband. But like all the music he has played — with his first, two-time Grammy Award-winning band, Living Colour, on sessions with artists ranging from Carlos Santana to Public Enemy, Mariah Carey to the Ramones, in solo projects and countless live appearances — Other True Self, the second album by Vernon Reid & Masque, on Favored Nations, is more about search than discovery. The title says it. In fact, the titles Reid attached to all of his own work, beginning with his solo debut Mistaken Identity and continuing with the first Favored Nations Masque CD, Known Unknown, outline a journey of self-discovery that’s well underway but far from over.

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