Pianist Eric Reed soars to towering heights with this uplifting and altogether superior new release, featuring fellow “Wynton Marsalis Group” constituents; trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, alto saxophonist Wessell Anderson and other jazz sharpshooters, as this eleven-piece outfit delivers the goods in rather explosive fashion. No doubt, Reed possesses enviable chops, yet his concoction of cleverly organized motifs and complexly swinging arrangements offer a trickle of fresh air to a sometimes languid or floundering, modern-day post-Bop scene. With, “Three Dances: Island Grind - Latin Bump - Boogie Down”, Reed perpetuates articulately crafted and tightly integrated Bop grooves amid blazing Bud Powell-like right hand movements, rhythmically charged block chords and roaring cadenzas.
Essentially, the group kicks up a storm via Reed’s dazzling, big band style horn arrangements. However, the musicians’ chart a disparate course via the mid-tempo, rollicking and rolling R&B-drenched piece titled, “Suite Sisters: Fine & Brown”, whereas Reed’s stride piano intro to “Romantic Rag” launches a series of alternating themes and flows, including subtle nods to March-master John Phillip Sousa and Duke Ellington. Meanwhile, “Devil In A Dress” boasts a pungent Afro-Cuban vibe to coincide with the musicians’ well-placed enunciations and cheery sentiment. Needless to state, Happiness is an impassioned celebration of the musical spirit and other than a bit of much deserved fanfare, the musicians’ also propagate an idyllic perspective throughout. Strongly recommended - (Top Ten pick for 2001).
Happiness; Three Dances: Island Grind, Latin Bump, Boogie Down; Say You Care; Suite Sister: Fine And Brown; Suite Sisters: Crazy Red; Suite Sisters: Black Beauty; Mood Indigo; Romantic Rag; Devil In A Dress; Someone Else's Love. (Total Time: 60:12)
Personnel: P>Eric Reed: Piano; Marcus Printup: Trumpet; Wycliffe Gordon: Trombone; Dion Tucker: Trombone; Wessell Anderson: Alto Saxophone; Julius Tolentino: Alto Saxophone; Wayne Escoffery: Tenor Saxophone. Soprano Saxophone; Walter Blanind, Jr.: Clarinet; Barak Mori: Bass; Rodney Green: Drums; Renato Thoms: Percussion.
The first record I bought was Miles Smiles. Having been a drummer since age two, hearing a young Tony Williams opened up so many possibilities for a 14 year old church drummer. My life changed that day and I've never looked back!