AVAILABLE NOW: Eric Reed’s “Everybody Gets the Blues”
Available Now on Smoke Sessions Records
Eric Reed Finds Solace in Shared Experience on
Everybody Gets the Blues, Reimagining the Music of
Cedar Walton, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles,
John Coltrane and Freddie Hubbard
Veteran Pianist Reaches New Heights in his Lifelong
Pursuit to Revitalize the Gospel Roots Intrinsic to Jazz
Whenever problems arise, it’s always helpful to remember that we’re not alone. On his new album,Everybody Gets the Blues, pianist Eric Reed draws strength from his mentors and heroes, the celebrated and the unsung, in order to face down struggles both personal and global. The album finds Reed reaching back into his roots in the church to find a singular way forward.
Available Now on Smoke Sessions Records, Everybody Gets the Blues digs deep into personal emotions to expose universal truths, discovering a few unexpected connections along the way. Whether bridging the generations between Cedar Walton and Stevie Wonder or inventing a fresh take on such a familiar favorite as Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring,” Reed finds the inspiration to move forward by following the paths forged by those who’ve come before.
“I always look for answers in the past,” Reed says. “What is there in history that I can draw from? Who else has gone through what I’m going through? Who has felt what I’m feeling? That helps me to answer the questions that I have in life right now.”
For Reed, “the past” inevitably leads back to the church, and to gospel music. It was the sound that he first heard and first played, and was at the core of his earliest love of jazz. “When I first started playing jazz as a child, my fascination with the music of Horace Silver, Ramsey Lewis, or Dave Brubeck resonated with what I heard growing up in church, listening to piano players like James Cleveland and Herbert Pickard and Curtis Dublin. I said, ‘Wait a minute, this doesn’t sound like the stuff I play in church, but it’s very closely connected. What’s going on here?’”
In recent years, however, Reed has found himself at a personal and professional crossroads, realizing that he’d deviated from those roots. On Everyone Gets the Blues, he reorients himself along the right path, rediscovering the gospel lifeblood that fuels his jazz passion.
A native of Philadelphia, Reed began playing piano in the storefront Baptist church where his father sang and preached. His parents encouraged his gift, signing him up for private piano lessons. After relocating to the Los Angeles suburbs with his family, Reed studied at the Community School of Performing Arts (now The Colburn School), where his talents were recognized by no less an authority than Wynton Marsalis, who later enlisted Reed for the piano chair in his Septet.
Beginning in 1990, Reed spent the better part of two decades in New York City, where he became a regular at the legendary club Bradley’s and had the opportunity to learn at the side of many of the music’s pioneering figures. At the same time, he was swept up in the tide of the Young Lions movement, garnering a reputation as a strict hard-bop traditionalist that became an increasingly uncomfortable fit.
“For too many years I ignored my own instincts,” the pianist says. “I started out playing different kinds of music with all different kinds of people, but I took a detour. This record is a turning point; it’s finally time to start doing what it is that I want to do.”
To realize that goal, Reed has assembled a stellar group of musicians who share his rejuvenated, wide-ranging vision, as well as his gospel bent. Both saxophonist Tim Green and drummer McClenty Huntershare his religious roots, while bassist Mike Gurrola has deep roots instilled by the inspiration of Ray Brown and his apprenticeship under John Clayton.
Through a range of moods and styles, Eric Reed recognizes that Everybody Gets the Blues, offering a spirited act of communion for those wanting to commiserate and a vigorous set of swing for those who’ve come out the other side.