In a world where so many young jazz artists feel the need to feature programs consisting exclusively of originals on their debut recordings as leaders, it is refreshing to hear a veteran like pianist Eric Reed, who plays a wide range of forgotten gems, some standards, and jazz favorites along with inventive renditions of songs from gospel, pop, and his own compositions. Accompanied by bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Rodney Green, Reed kicks off Something Beautiful with a subtle yet strutting exploration of Lucky Thompson's "Sun Out," followed by a driving setting of Dave Brubeck's timeless gem "In Your Own Sweet Way," complemented by Rogers' tasty bass and Green's sensitive percussion. The sole standard of the date is "How Deep Is the Ocean?," yet Reed gives it a fresh look by improvising his way into it rather than stating the melody outright, offering a gently swinging performance. Reed's deep gospel roots are evident in his celebratory treatment of "Lift Up Your Hands to the Lord," while his deliberate arrangement of rocker Billy Joel's ballad "Honesty" almost gives it the feeling that it could be played as an offertory solo. Reed's originals are just as potent, including the infectious midtempo cooker "Something Beautiful" and the lush romantic ballad "If I Knew You." Eric Reed's Something Beautiful showcases a seasoned artist who is very much at the top of his game.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden