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Throughout this studio session, Eric Reed shows why many critics consider him to be one of the top pianists of his generation. Well-accompanied by bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Willie Jones III, Reed kicks off with a lively interpretation of Benny Golson's jazz standard "Stablemates, on which the shadings and pulse of the rhythm section complement the leader's flights on the keyboard.
John Coltrane's "26-2 is not one of the late saxophonist's better known works, but Reed's elaborate one-handed run sets up a driving arrangement that almost seems to explode. His choice of Rodgers & Hart's ballad "It's Easy to Remember, an infrequently performed gem from the Great American Songbook, is subtle yet never overly maudlin, accented perfectly by Whitaker's spacious bass line and Jones' soft brushwork.
Most of the disc is devoted to Reed originals. The brisk "Kokomo is a thunderous reworking of "(Back Home Again in) Indiana. His angular "I C H.N. (For Herbie Nichols) conjures the spirit of Nichols' intriguing writing and playing style. "Hymn is a reflective miniature piano solo that proves utterly captivating. Both the bittersweet ballad "Wish (For My Father) and the buoyant "Is That...? are excellent showcases for Whitaker.
Eric Reed finishes the date with a flourish as the trio devours whole his intense post bop vehicle "Ornate. The first-rate engineering of this outstanding date gives the listener a seat right in the midst of the band.
Track Listing: Stablemates; Kokomo; I C H.N. (For Herbie Nichols); Hymn; Why?; 26-2; Wish (For My Father); It's Easy To Remember; I Got Nothin'; Is That...?; Ornate.
Personnel: Eric Reed: piano; Rodney Whitaker: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.