"Here. This moment. Right now. That's not just a message inside the jewel case for Here, Eric Reed's new CD; it's also a mission statement.
The opener, "Stablemates, reveals a team working together towards a common goal. Reed's trio takes the Benny Golson standard to a more intimate level, while still preserving the ebullient feel of the original. The former Wynton Marsalis sideman maintains a smooth, reasonable voice from beginning to end, rooting his piano solos in simple, elegant phrases that invite you to come closer. Drummer Willie Jones III provides power and punctuation to Reed's creative statements while adding his own solo sense to the mix. This dynamic runs throughout Here, allowing Reed to avoid using bombast in order to make points.
Jones' skills as a foil and a collaborator were developed with the gone-but-not-forgotten Black/Note, a much more mercurial unit than this one. Jones and Reed's call-and-answer moments on "Stablemates and the Reed-penned "I Got Nuthin' practically become cutting contests, as one drives the other to higher levels of excellence. For all the heat he throws, Jones' sense of nuance is just as prevalent on Here. His brushwork on "Wish (written for Reed's father) and "Why? is as effective as the fusillades he launches on the suite-like, borderline-chaotic closer "Ornate.
Although bassist Rodney Whitaker contributes some excellent solos (particularly on the swirling "Is That... ), his best role is as foundation-layer. He keeps the pieces steady so Reed and Jones can create in space; Reed shows his skills as a leader by giving his partners room to move. "Is That... is three people saying different things about the same subject at the same time. Rather than being a cacophony, Reed's trust in the other two players is rewarded with a complete musical picture, its complexity a delight.
Reed effortlessly breaks down Coltrane's fractal "26-2 without sacrificing its envelope-stretching muscle. "Wish dovetails perfectly with Reed's wistful take on Rodgers and Hart's "It's Easy To Remember, and Reed infuses the unique style of Herbie Nichols into the staggering blues "I C H.N. Reed's playing has a spirit and a soulfulness that raises his music to a heady level; the contemplative solo piece "Hymn could be a blueprint for an entire disc of spare, inspiring brilliance.
Here is a treatise on what the piano trio can be when three unique voices become one. Here's to Reed for loving his musical vision enough to share the spotlight equally.
Stablemates; Kokomo; I.C.H.N. (For Herbie Nichols); Hymn; Why?; 26-2; Wish (For My Father); Easy To Remember; I Got Nothing; Is That; Ornate.
Eric Reed: piano; Rodney Whitaker: double bass; Willie Jones III: drums.
| Year Released: 2006
| Record Label: MAXJAZZ
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