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Photo on left: Joshua White

Los Angeles pianist Eric Reed brought his "favorite trio ever" into Dizzy's last night for a CD release party celebrating his new release on WJ3 records, "Something Beautiful."

Completing his dream trio was doublebass master Hamilton Price and young drum phenomenon Kevin Kanner. This group has been working all over LA for the last three years, and their intuition and simpatico are finely honed.

Reed is a former child prodigy who began playing the instrument at the age of two in his father's store-front church in Philadelphia. The influence of Gospel music continues to run deep in his consciousness.

Jazz also took hold at an early age, so after tearing it up at the Colburn School, the teenaged Reed began playing with a bevy of LA heavy-hitters like saxophonist Buddy Collette and the Clayton Brothers .

In his first year of college, Reed got the invitation from none other than Wynton Marsalis to join his ensemble, with whom he would tour the world for five years.

The Reed trio recently toured Spain, where British pop-jazz vocalist Jamie Cullum sat in.

Friday's show began with the comfortable swing of Benny Golson's classic, "Stablemates," and right off the bat, Reed's virtuosity was clear. He can play with dazzling speed, so much so that his fingers often became blurred in the process.

Where Reed really shines, however, is after he tones down the velocity a notch to showcase his ideas--which really sparkle when he gives them room to breathe. That's when his Gospel roots and blues ornaments become identifiers--and his music starts to really burn.

Price is one of the best young bassists to come out of LA in years. He has such a strong sound, and a rich baritone timbre--all coupled with imaginative commentary--it's easy to see why he doesn't get too many nights off.

Especially unique were the percussive contributions of Kanner--who coaxed more music out of his tiny drum-kit than seemed possible. The drummer is in constant motion, his wicked ride cymbal beats are offset by a churning cross-stick dialogue involving rim-shot chatter and unexpected accents.

A medley of "Yesterdays" and "How Deep Is The Ocean" was especially fine, even if the shift from one tune to the other was intentionally abrupt. An alt-rock arrangement from the new disc, "Black Tables" dropped comfortably into an ECM type feel, while Noel Coward's "Mad About The Boy" strutted along on a tango gait.

For the finale, Reed invited local piano sensation Joshua White up to the stage to join him on a manic interpretation of "Blue Monk."

It was a gesture both generous and prescient. More on that later...

photo courtesy Eric Reed

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