It is easy to imagine Neil Reid, a hillbilly teenager, wandering down from somewhere in Ozark territory -- a nook, valley, crag, perhaps even a cave -- with little more than a rucksack and his trombone case. If territory band historical data is to be trusted, Reid was already playing trombone professionally in the Midwest before he was a teenager. He worked in the Virgil Howard Band when he was 12 and was a member of the brass section of at least one other area big band prior to the trombonist's studies at the University of Illinois.
Not to be confused with the Glaswegian DJ of the same name, Reid was a member of the Isham Jones Juniors before beginning a stint with Woody Herman that lasted until 1944 and the Second World War. Count Reid among an absolute elite of trombonists who have served in the U.S. Marines, an appropriate honor since this is a branch of the military service that likes to think of itself as special. Reid is furthermore on the longer list of musicians who have given up their instruments in order to start construction companies, the now ex-trombonist's decision upon concluding his wartime commitment. The war years had continued to include a great deal of music, however, since Reid wound up as a member of Bob Crosby's Service Band, stationed in the Pacific theater.
Reid's discography is highlighted by recordings involving the latter bandleader's better-known brother, Bing Crosby, including the excellent Bing Crosby and Some Jazz Friends sessions. There are also a number of recordings available from the Herman tenure, including tracks from both the '30s and '40s. Some of this material, originally cut for Decca, represents the Herman band's most popular sides. It is true that Reid's soloing contributions to this material have been well received over the years by critics; steady use of the adjective "punchy" may be based on the regrettable fact that, at least at a live gig, no musical instrument could potentially break a listener's nose more efficiently than a trombone slide.