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Exploring the Jazz Piano of Eric Reed on his Smoke Session Records – Groovewise!

GroovewiseMany of the 2014 jazz albums that I have explored this year have been released on the Smoke Sessions label, from Vincent Herring’s Uptown Shuffle to Orrin Evans Liberation Blues, with albums from Javon Jackson, Cyrus Chestnut and David Hazeltine in between! The latest Smoke Session Records release that has spent extended time in my music rotation is Groovewise from pianist Eric Reed.

After doing a little exploring at both Reed’s website where I read….

When I was 4, my Aunt Barbara gave me an inch high stack of used vinyl records that she purchased for about 25 cents from a flea market. Included in that stack was Dave Brubeck’s “Time Further Out”, recorded May/June 1961. When I put on the first track, “It’s a Raggy Waltz”, it struck a chord with the funny, adventurous side of my “old soul.” Read More

By the time he was four, Reed had already been playing piano in his Philadelphia home for two years!! He started music school at the age of seven, he resisted classical training in favor of jazz.“I wasn’t interested in practicing Bach; I was too busy digging Horace Silver!” At the age of 11, he and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he played around the LA jazz scene as a teenager, met Wynton Marsalis at 17, toured with Marsalis’ band at age 18 and joined it full-time the next year, replacing Marcus Roberts. The following year he released his first album as a leader A Soldier’s Hymn, with his regular backing trio of bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. Since then Reed has released 21 albums as a leader and many others as a sideman for the likes of Wynton Marsalis and Christian McBride.

On Groovewise Reed is joined by drummer Huthinson for the first time in15 years, along with Seamus Blake on saxophone and Ben Williams on bass, the result is a tight group and a great album. Reed says this about making the album.

“I could have called guys who play exactly what I want; it would have been good and not very interesting. It would have been swinging or it would have sounded nice—there wouldn’t have really been a spark. You don’t just want to sound good. You want it to be amazing.”

I think that he accomplished what he set out to do!! All four of the musicians work wonderfully together. This is the first time I’ve encountered Canadian sax player Seamus Blake and after listening to his work on this album I think I will check out his other work!! As for Reed I’m listening now to Reed’s 1993 release It’s All Right to Swing the pick at AllMusic and it’s great. Reed’s 2006 album Here and 2009’s Stand both get 4.5 stars at AllMusic so I guess they’re next up!!

Bottom line Check out Groovewise and any other album by Reed!!


Smoke Session Records

Here is Eric and his band performing  Christian McBride“s – “The Shade of the Cedar Tree”  from Groovewise....