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Eric Reed, who spent a week at the Village Vanguard in October with his septet, says the compositions on his new album are a reflection not just of his musical tastes but of what's currently going on in his life. If that's the case, the Philadelphia-born pianist must be living a very good life indeed. The songs and playing on E-Bop exude a relaxed, upbeat air of optimism that suggest a man who's comfortable in his own skin and an artist in full command of his considerable talents.
As the album's title suggests – and as one might expect from Reed's longtime association with Wynton Marsalis and the LCJO – E-Bop is essentially a hard bop affair with a clear regard for the jazz tradition. The opener, "Ain't Nothing Wrong With That," makes obvious allusions to Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Sidewinder -era Lee Morgan, while "Bouncin' with Boo Boo" is a nod to their bop predecessor, Bud Powell. Along with eight stirring originals, Reed also offers reinventions of tunes by Monk and Elmo Hope.
What elevates all this above a mere rehash of music – even excellently played music – that we've all heard countless times before is the warmth and vitality of Reed's playing; his ability to mix technical prowess with grace, soul and deep church roots. With help from likeminded contemporaries like Marcus Printup on trumpet and Walter Blanding Jr. on tenor sax, Reed makes the case that there's room for innovation, imagination and growth within tradition.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach
I was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach. I fell in love with it. I wondered around until the owner (Pedro Soto) asked if I needed help. He then introduced me to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan and the rest is history. I walked out of the store with my first jazz recording: Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street.