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When you think of hard-driving swing,
daring expression, sophistication and elegance in artistry, formidable
technique and a thunderous sound, there are only a small handful
of young pianists you think of and one of them is most assuredly
ERIC REED. But don’t think of him as a just a pianist; Eric is one
of the new generation’s most advanced thinkers in Jazz music.
Born in Philadelphia, PA. on June 21,
1970, Eric grew up playing Gospel music in his father’s storefront
Baptist church, starting at the age of five. "My father was a minister
but he also used to sing with a Gospel group in Philly called the
Bay State Singers. He was my earliest musical influence. I also
was hit heavily by Edwin Hawkins’ music of the 1970s. Gospel music
remains a large part of my playing today." Afterwards, young Reed
was bitten by the Jazz bug after hearing recordings of Art Blakey,
Ramsey Lewis and Dave Brubeck.
A child prodigy, Eric started playing
piano at age two and formal instruction began at age seven at Philadelphia’s
Settlement Music School. However, he remained primarily self-taught,
often confounding his instructors by not learning the written music,
but listening to them play it first and memorizing musical pieces
note-for-note. "I wasn’t interested in Bach at the time; I was checking
out Horace Silver."
By age eleven, his family moved to Los
Angeles and he continued his formal instruction at the R.D. Colburn
School of Arts where his theory teacher Jeff Lavner, finally realizing
that Eric was simply not going to bear the classics, turned him
onto recordings of great Jazz pianists. Clearly, Eric was setting
out to carve his own path early. "My neighborhood library had all
kinds of hip Jazz records and I was in there everyday checking them
out. Everything was there: Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson,
McCoy Tyner -- it was unbelievable! By the time I was thirteen,
I didn’t realize it but, I had digested all of the Jazz recordings
that musicians were expected to know."
After four years of intense self-teaching
combined with mentoring by composer Harold Battiste, Eric could
be heard around town working leading his own groups and working
in the bands of Teddy Edwards, Gerald Wilson, Clora Bryant and John
Clayton. He attended Cal State Northridge for one year during which
he toured briefly with Wynton Marsalis at age 18. A year later,
Eric joined Marsalis’ Septet (1990-91; 1992-95). He spent two years
with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (1996-98), making countless
recordings and TV appearances with them. Reed also worked in the
bands of Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson (1991-92). Eric continues
to perform and record with an assorted multitude of masters like
Elvin Jones, Benny Carter, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Cassandra
Wilson, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, Dianne Reeves and a host of other
diverse performers including Natalie Cole, Patti Labelle, Oleta
Adams, Edwin Hawkins, Jessye Norman and Quincy Jones.
Since 1995, Eric has been touring the
world with his own ensembles, making serious waves in the Jazz community.
The legendary Ahmad Jamal has called Eric, "one of my very favorite
pianists." Eric’s recording Pure Imagination,
shot to #1 on the Gavin chart and stayed there for seven weeks,
earning him the 1999 Gavin Artist of the Year award. His next recording,
Manhattan Melodies was also
#1 on Gavin for several weeks. A masterful composer/arranger Reed
has scored music for independent films as well as mainstream, including
the comedy "Life," featuring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.
In addition to leading a quintet that
features some of the finest young talent on the scene, Eric presently
expands his musical horizons in the area of education, teaching
in various situations worldwide. Away from the piano, Eric serves
as the artistic director of a concert series called Jazz Composer
Portraits at Columbia University’s Miller Theater. Eric’s latest
release is FROM MY HEART,
his first ever recording of all ballads.
Check out all the info on Eric's own website.