Everybody Gets The Blues
Smoke Sessions/Smoke Sessions Records
Eric Reed has established himself as a fine modern jazz pianist – he has the soft hands of Oscar Peterson and exquisite phrasing of McCoy Tyner but he folds in pop and rock listening influences along with his deep gospel roots (his father was a Baptist preacher).
You’ll hear that on this set of mostly originals, time and again, but take the intro to Martha’s Prize for starters. It’s a gospel piano lick that opens the tune – but Reed has such a way of sharing in these tunes. McClenty Hunter lifts the piano lines up with a funky drumbeat before saxophonist Tim Green is all but allowed to run away with the song.
It’s such a wonderful, defined quartet sound. Mike Gurrola’s rich, empathic bass a key element, Reed so often the starting point – but very much the captain or coach of a team, rather than the showboat-star.
The inclusion of a cover of Coltrane’s Naima is for Green as much as it’s for anyone. Reed sitting softly beneath on electric piano.
Elsewhere covers are integrated – so a snippet of The Beatles’ Yesterday is lifted for an intro to Jerome Kern’s Yesterdays. Reed’s music has so often been about conversations – now he seeks to make them meta.
Or on Reed’s own Cedar Waltzin’ (a nod to pianist Cedar Walton) the band pushes the swing towards a fine fiesta of sound, allowing Reed to seamlessly interpolate the main motif from Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing. These are showcases for his – and the band’s – dexterity, and all-around musicality; their appreciation as well as their technical finesse.
As far as straight-ahead jazz goes this is a no-brainer. Brilliant, beautiful playing with tributes to greats from the past (Up Jumped Spring for Freddie Hubbard, Dear Bud for Bud Powell) and plenty of exciting new tunes that speak directly from Reed’s experiences as sideman (Wynton Marsalis), member of a group (Black Note) and now leader of his own quartet. The closer, Road Life, all but places you right in the club – hearing it as if live on the night. Spectacular musicians. Some very classy playing.
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