Eric Reed – Happiness

Eric Reed
(Nagel Heyer – 2001)
by Sidney Bechet-Mandela

The bad news is that this record ends a string of wonderful piano based records released by Reed. The good news is that he’s taken what he’s learned from Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and has applied it music written for a small big band that features some of his friends from the LCJO, including saxophonist Wes “Warm Daddy” Anderson, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and trumpeter Marcus Printup.

It would be unfair to lump this music as Marsalis music without Wynton, because while it is formatted like one of Wynton’s group, the tunes don’t seem nearly as stiff as what Wynton can sometimes deliver, and the music doesn’t seem to have as much Ellingtonia as can be loaded into Marsalis’ music. But, maybe it’s because it’s the same players, some of that Marsalis music is unavoidable, especially in the voicing of the horns. This is hardly a bad record, but the unabashed breeziness of his past recordings, “Pure Imagination,” and “Manhattan Melodies.”