By Bobby Reed | Published May 2019
Pianist Eric Reed is among the most gifted of today’s straightahead jazz players who draw important inspiration from the past. In the liner notes to his new quartet album, the excellent Everybody Gets The Blues, the 48-year-old Philadelphia native writes, “More and more, I find myself looking back—not in the effort to recapture or to waddle in regret, but to reassess, analyze and rebuild for tomorrow.” Reed salutes pianist Bud Powell with an original tune, “Dear Bud,” reharmonizes the John Coltrane classic “Naima” with an arrangement that features his agile work on Fender Rhodes, and honors pianist James Williams (1951–2004) with a jaunty take on “Road Life,” a tune the composer recorded with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Elvin Jones for a 1988 album.
Reed’s reverence for pianist Cedar Walton (1934–2013) has a particularly strong influence on this album’s cohesive, hour-long program, which was recorded with Tim Green (alto and soprano saxophones), Mike Gurrola (bass) and McClenty Hunter (drums). Reed mixes polish with pizzazz on a bouncy, feel-good rendition of Walton’s “Martha’s Prize”; pays tribute to his hero with “Cedar Waltzin’,” an original tune that segues into Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ’Bout A Thing”; and offers a graceful reading of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring” (the first recording of which, from 1962, featured Walton, then a member of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers).
The album’s highlight is an elegant medley that intertwines the Beatles classic “Yesterday” with the Jerome Kern standard “Yesterdays” in a glorious fashion that works well melodically—deftly illustrating that the impulse to combine these tunes is based on something more profound than the similarity of their titles. Reed shines throughout the program, especially on the ballads, including his meditative, nine-minute gem, “New Morning.”
The tour schedule on Reed’s website lists a May 16 trio gig at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton, California, and a quartet show on July 27 at the Central Avenue Jazz Festival in Los Angeles.