“The older I get, the more I start to see my musical, spiritual and personal influences as all one stream of consciousness. The musical experiences are all tied together.”
– Eric Reed
Midway through his stellar new album, “Everybody Gets The Blues,” Eric Reed bridges two classic songs of heartbreak into one: Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” from 1964 and Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” from 1933. Alone on piano, he weaves a seamless meditation – wistful and deeply moving – before lifting the melody and the listener at the end in warm gospel rhythm and flourish.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Reed was banging piano keys at two years old and taking lessons at five. And before his feet could even reach the pedals, he was playing keyboards in church where his father sang and preached. As his chops developed and the family moved to Los Angeles, he devoured old jazz vinyl, music theory books and biographies; won local competitions; and ultimately caught the eye and ear of Wynton Marsalis who, while visiting Reed’s school to teach a master class, saw something in the young player and eventually brought him on tour with him in 1990. “He had a phenomenal level of talent for his age,” Marsalis says. “I’ve only met four or five musicians with that extreme ability.”
Over the ensuing years, Reed solidified his top-tier jazzman status as a solo performer, composer, producer and educator, and has recorded more than 20 albums, but “Everybody Gets The Blues” is his most personal. It’s a return home of sorts and a celebration of his musical heroes – from Cedar Walton and Stevie Wonder to John Coltrane and Freddie Hubbard. Forming a tight quartet with Tim Green, Mike Gurrola and McClenty Hunter, Reed creates a personal and poignant statement of inspiration and connection while rediscovering the gospel lifeblood that initially fueled his passion. “I always look for answers in the past,” Reed says. “What is there in history that I can draw from? Who has felt what I’m feeling? That helps me to answer the questions that I have in life right now.”