Pianist Eric Reed’s ambition for his latest album is right there in the title: to create something beautiful. He succeeds. Something Beautiful is a pristine straight-ahead piano-trio date (with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Rodney Green) that’s equally thoughtful, playful and moving.
If beauty is Reed’s priority, his primary tools for it are swing and lyricism. The piano sings with as much expression as any vocalist on the gospel-imbued rendition of Rodgers and Hart’s “I Still Believe in You”; skips purposefully across “How Deep Is the Ocean?” and “Citadel”; and casts “In Your Own Sweet Way” as a euphonious waltz. Along the way Reed makes daring harmonic moves, injecting impressionism into the otherwise soulful changes of “Sun Out” and offering bravura runs on a tango arrangement of “Mad About the Boy.”
Still, the album’s highlight is the somber “Black Tables,” out-moping its indie-rock source material with its funeral-march tempo and Reed’s doleful ballet figures. It also features a meditative solo by Rogers that sweeps across the instrument’s range—which, alongside his in-the-pocket comps (“Honesty”) and gorgeous obbligati (“Lift Up Your Hands to the Lord”) makes this among his best recordings. Green, meantime, maintains a sizzling ride cymbal that peaks on the title track, a sly Reed original, and nicely offsets his occasional moody mallets. Practically flawless, Something Beautiful is the kind of recording you want to preserve in amber.