Eric Reed

Manhattan Melodies

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On this basic piano trio CD, Eric Reed is quite assertive on many different levels. His piano playing is maturing, growing stronger and deeper, stripping himself of clich├ęs and past influences. He's chosen to take established songs and standards and modify them to his liking. A fine rhythm section of bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Gregory Hutchinson moves the music forward, and, as you might expect, the songs are based on his New York, New York experience. You'd be hard pressed, upon hearing his take of the old Harpers Bizarre Merseybeat Top 40 hit "59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" to recognize it from the original. Reed has re-harmonized it beautifully into a modern jazz vehicle for his own melodic trappings. The title track has some McCoy Tyner-like strength, but it's coming from the sinewy fingers of Reed, and he tosses in some stride piano during his take on Thelonious Monk's "Five Spot Blues," a neat idea. His "NYC Blues" is elegant, soulful and swinging. He changes up "Puttin' on the Ritz" in an Afro-Cuban mode, helped by percussionist Renato Thomas, and goes tender and serene on "Englishman in New York." For "A Letter to Betty Carter" the trio is joined by vocalist Dianne Reeves. There are two medleys; one "Harlemania" has a more modernistic Duke Ellington flavor, while "NYC Medley" includes a witty 5/4 run through of "Autumn in New York," a pensive "Skating in Central Park" and a meditative "Central Park West." Reed's playing is quite attractive. He knows no bounds and touches on all of the aspects of the tradition on this, perhaps his best of the several CDs he's released. If you like quality and quantity in your jazz piano players, Eric Reed is your man these days.

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