108

Eric Reed: Something Beautiful

Greg Simmons By

Sign in to view read count
Eric Reed: Something Beautiful
Eric Reed's Something Beautiful is well-named: a collection of mostly standards, delivered with sensitive hands and unerring taste. The pianist shows a knack for choosing great material, mostly staying away from jazz's grossly overplayed warhorses in favor of lesser-known material that is, nonetheless, classic and elegant.

The album offers a unified atmosphere of down- and mid-tempo melodies—sometimes melancholy, sometimes bouncy, and occasionally even uplifting. Jesse Tabish's "Black Tables" is almost hymn-like, with deep left-handed chords creating gravity under the melody, as drummer Rodney Green conveys the rhythm on the low toms. As he works out, Reed makes sure to allow a pause—almost breathing room—between ideas, preventing his improvisations from overwhelming the soft forward urge of the song.

It takes a moment to grasp the melody of Billy Joel's "Honesty," with the almost pace diminished to a dirge. But it's there, and it turns out to be one of the best interpretations on the album. With only bassist Reuben Rogers accompanying, Reed draws this familiar pop song into exceptional new territory, with a deep connection to the music, and a delivery that places its emphasis on poignancy rather than pyrotechnics. It's a masterful performance.

Reed's own compositions are equal to his interpretations and fit quite naturally with the rest of the album. The title track bounces a little more, with a prominent bass line, an accessible melody, and some really tight syncopation. Again, Reed employs those subtle pauses in the rhythm and in his improvisational delivery, adding an ingenious effect to an already well-crafted tune. The closing "If I Knew You," performed solo, returns to the larghissimo pace employed in "Honesty," with largely the same effect. Reed has a true feel for these ballads, playing with enough self-restraint to allow the melodies to shine through—employing his considerable technique in the service of the piece, but never the other way around. That's a difficult balancing act, and one he manages with aplomb. If there's any criticism of his original compositions it's that there aren't more of them.

Reed's last effort, The Dancing Monk (Savant, 2011), was also an excellent effort, but Something Beautiful is better. Constrained by a single composer, Reed was forced to concede some of his own stylistic ground to compositions that that could never be mistaken for anyone other than Thelonious Monk. Here, he's free to interpret the material in his own style, and as a result he delivers a much more passionate performance.

It has been noted that ballads can be the most difficult songs to master because of the subtlety involved. If that is the case then Something Beautiful represents the performance of a truly gifted and sensitive balladeer.

Track Listing

Sun Out; In Your Own Sweet Way; Black Tables; How Deep Is The Ocean?; I Still Believe In You; Lift Up Your Hands To The Lord; Mad About The Boy; Citadel; Honesty; Something Beautiful; If I Knew You.

Personnel

Eric Reed: piano; Reuben Rogers: bass; Rodney Green: drums.

Album information

Title: Something Beautiful | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: WJ3 Records

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Afrika Love
Alchemy Sound Project
Sunday At De Ruimte
Marta Warelis / Frank Rosaly / Aaron Lumley /...
Westward Bound!
Harold Land
Tread Lightly
Trøen Arnesen Quartet
MMBC Terma
Michael Bisio / MMBC
Koki Solo
Natsuki Tamura
Colibri Rojo
Camilia Nebbia

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.