Eric Reed

From My Heart

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Pianist Eric Reed's touch has always been a sensitive one, but From My Heart marks the first time Reed has really consummated this side of his playing, going out of his way to bring a mostly unheard side of him to emotional ballads from popular and classical music as well as jazz. On From My Heart, Reed has chosen the minimalist accompaniment of Cecil Brooks III on drums and Dwayne Burno on bass, giving the pianist ample room to stretch out with each song. On the first piece, Lennon and McCartney's famed "Yesterday," Reed does a tasteful take of the melody, gradually easing into the solo with a selection of minor modes and cooled, climbing crescendos while Brooks and Burno back the proceedings with an interesting Latin-style backbeat. Reed gives a more subdued treatment to G. Jenkins' classic "Goodbye," while the Cahn/Stordahl/Weston tune "I Should Care" is more upbeat, with Brooks laying down a smooth carpet of brush strokes over which Reed takes off on a long bout of piano acrobatics. Reed is an expert at building tension (his formative years with Wynton Marsalis taught him well), and here he works some amazing technical runs up to a delicious release. An intriguing version of Chopin's "Prelude in E Minor" follows, with Reed gently easing Chopin's melody into a rich, increasingly dense solo. Reed gets back to basics with Duke Ellington's 1941 masterpiece "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," taking several playful choruses in the upper registers -- even hinting at Donaldson and Kahn's "Makin' Whoopee" at one point. Burno comes in for a nice melodic solo to take the tune out. Reed's take on the Irving Berlin classic "How Deep Is the Ocean" is equally playful, finding the pianist taking his time with the opening melody, using every little bit of space available for embellishment. Reed follows with a moving version of Cahn and Brodszky's "I'll Never Stop Loving You." From My Heart ends with odes to Miles Davis and Monk, with Reed covering Davis' "Flamenco Sketches" and Monk's "'Round Midnight" with equal luster. Of particular note is how Reed takes full advantage of the modal basis of "Flamenco Sketches," building lush chord structures, trills, and tremolo effects on top of each other for a heavy six and a half minutes. Reed does a stretching, gorgeous interpretation of "'Round Midnight," combining his own blazing technical prowess with an ode to Monk's quirky style. Brooks and Burno even go into a bossa nova on one of the last choruses. Reed finishes the album with a gentle, intimate version of Cahn and Styne's "I Fall in Love Too Easily," gracefully and subtly easing the melody in and out of his solo, until finally breaking into several more fine, melodic runs and upper structures to take the song out. From My Heart works as both an ode to several great composers and a fabulous exposition of Reed's ability to make even the most demanding ballads his own. While From My Heart may not have the usual Reed lineup of blazing horn players and original songs (Reed is a fine composer by any standard), it gives this talented pianist a chance to show that he is finally coming into his own as a stylist.

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