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Eric Reed: Stand!

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Eric Reed’s latest offering opens with the CD’s title track, a reminder of how the gifted pianist can bring orchestral dynamics, layering and thrust to even a simple theme whenever the spirit moves him.

And that spirit moves him often on this gospel-inspired trio session devoted entirely to original compositions. In some ways, the performances of “Stand!” and “Glitch Shout On,” another album highlight, are typical of the album’s rewards. The melodies quickly fold back on themselves, and yet with each cycling they take on fresh harmonic colors or acquire additional momentum, thanks in part to bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Willie Jones III. Not exactly a joyful noise, perhaps, but exuberant and driven just the same, especially when Reed is gathering clusters of resounding chords and punctuating them with darting single-note runs.

Occasionally the mood turns subdued and soulful. Two stand-out examples: “Gratitude,” which brings to mind Ahmad Jamal’s approach to textured trio performances, and “A Love Divine,” a brush-stroked jazz spiritual. “Like a Thief in the Night” finds the trio at its most relaxed, settling into a surefire soul-jazz groove, while “Draco,” burning with Afro-Caribbean energy, ignites a kinetic interlude. The shifts in tone are welcome, preventing lulls and allowing Whitaker and Jones to display both muscle and nuance. Of course, Reed’s postbop virtuosity alone could carry some of these tunes. Yet the performances consistently benefit from an inspired level of interplay, something that’s apparent right down to the album’s delightful, blues-tinted coda, “Everything That Has Breath.”