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Eric Reed: Manhattan Melodies

It is evident that Eric Reed is becoming a consummate trio piano player. Many pianists spend time accompanied by bass and drums, but few fit the parameters of a real trio player, in the tradition of say Ahmad Jamal, or Billy Taylor. Certain pianists more inclined towards quartet, quintet or larger bands don’t properly adapt in the trio setting, Eric Reed is one who does. It takes a certain orchestral sense at the piano, balanced with a certain sense of making a trio an orchestra; which Reed does.

His first for Verve could be lumped into the land of the concept album, a tactic that has become gray around the edges. This is no concept, it is a no-gimmick program of Manhattan music, and Reed goes Uptown (the “Harlemania” medley is Ellingtonian), Midtown (the “Great White Way” courtesy of “Theme from New York, New York”), and Downtown (a stop in the Village for Monk’s “Blues Five Spot”). In between there’s Central Park (as in “Skating in Central Park” and Trane’s “Central Park West”), and a postal stop to deliver a Letter To Betty Carter, with guest Dianne Reeves’ understated delivery. There are Latin textures as well as a trip across “The 59th Street Bridge Song.” Reed molds pop songs, jazz standards, and Tin Pan Alley into a clever and most attractive portrait, in classic piano jazz trio fashion.

Originally Published