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.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.