Alto saxophonist Sam Reed is legend in the Philadelphia jazz scene who was leader of the 1950s band, Sam Reed and the All-Stars, worked uptown theatre for a while, performed with pop and R&B stars and served as the musical director for Teddy Pendergrass just to mention a few highlights from his long musical resume . On the boppish Ready for Reed, Italian paints of note, Roberto Magris joins forces with the sax man in a a tribute to one of the most enduring jazz musicians of East Coast jazz. After performing traditional rhythm and blues during his years in theatre, Reed added jazz to his repertoire which was an obvious evolution since, as he states, he was "a bopper at heart." On this album, Reed and Magris lead a small ensemble interpreting the music of icons like Gene Ammons, Charlie Parker, Billy Strayhorn and Lee Morgan in a lively hard bop fashion that's hard to ignore.
The opening musical statement is non-standard for sure featuring a percussive texture that has drummer Brian Steever and percussionist Pablo Sanhueza on pronounced roles but Magrison the Hammond B3 organand Reed, do indeed deliver their respective solos in a powerhouse beginning to the album. The pianist's own original "The Swagger," is aptly titled as this piece does bring out the best in the band as all perform with a measure of grace and swagger on one of the outstanding tunes of the disc. Bassist Dominique Sanders introduces Duke Ellington's standard "Love You Madly" with trombonist Kendall Moore weighing in on a perky solo right before Reed's own alto joust showing us that this old man still has a lot of grit to his playing.
The Rodgers and Hart classic "I Married an Angel," is one of the softer spots on the recording with the arrangement highlighting tender moments from the pianist himself as well as from tenor saxophonist Steve Lambert and the bassist. The title track is a bluesy burner for sure with the trombonist and both Reed and Lambert blowing away with some of the best solos of the recording, while Magris takes another turn on the B3 organ. The pianist is at his best on the Nicholas Brodszky piece "Be My Love" followed by co-leader Reed who delivers a delicate solo statement of his own, on one beautiful rendition of this time-honored standard.
One of Magris's favorite and most influential artists in his career, has always been the great Lee Morgan and it is his "Stopstart" that is chosen to end the program and does so in rousing fashion. It certainly seems clear that Sam Reed was ready to meet and play with Roberto Magris and that the pianist, in turn, was obviously Ready for Reed and, as documented on this superb outing, these two master musician sure know how to make some beautiful music together.
Jungle Strut; The Swagger; Love You Madly; Paris Blues Revisited; Quasimodo; I Married an Angel; Ready for Reed; Sweet Jenny Lou; Be My Love; Stopstart; Audio Notebook.
Sam Reed: alto sax; Roberto Magris: piano, Hammond B3 (1, 7); Kendall Moore: trombone; Steve Lambert: tenor sax (6, 7); Dominique Sanders: bass; Brian Steever: drums; Pablo Sanhueza: congas (1, 2, 7, 8).
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