Bassist Jeff Reed resides in Maryland but is widely known as a sideman on over fifty albums. Reed is a schooled musician earning his Bachelor of Music from Towson University and a Master of Music from the University of Maryland, College Park. Coming full circle educationally, Reed is an adjunct faculty member at Towson University. Surprisingly, this is Reed’s debut album, but one that is a welcome moment in his credits. Inspired by his son’s birth, the album began its formation in 2011 as Reed reflected on his son Fox’s Earthly arrival and the powerful meaning behind it.
In November of 2019, Reed stepped into the studio to record with friends and fellow jazz musicians Todd Marcus on bass clarinet, Jonathan Epley on guitar, and longtime collaborator Eric Kennedy on drums. The morning of the recording, Reed got a call from Kennedy that his mother passed, Reed, of course, was more than willing to postpone, but Kennedy insisted it was a befitting tribute of gratitude and befitting to the album’s title Look For The Light, which at that point took on an even deeper meaning.
Reed fittingly begins the album with the Charlie Parker tune “Segment.” Reed’s bass fills between the melody shows his deep understanding of both the bebop and post- bop language. The sonorities of bass clarinet, trumpet, and guitar offer a unique orchestral color. The arrangement allows both Reed and Kennedy solo space while still maintaining a full ensemble sound, allowing no encumbrance of the melody being presented. Jones turns in a fun solo over the swinging rhythm section of Reed and Kennedy. Marcus’ bass clarinet solo is built around developing a central rhythmic motif. Epley’s guitar solo has a rich tapestry of arpeggios and chromatic embellishments.
The Oscar Pettiford song “Tricotism” starts with a rhythmic figure that Kennedy solos with. The theme is short and to the point, as Reed takes the first solo. Reed has the right amount of percussive attack and a warm woody tone to make his bass sing while still defining the time and resonating the fundamentals when needed. The bass clarinet compliments the ensemble sound and mixes well with the guitar as the chordal support. Reed is to the point in his arranging process, creating gems that provide improvisational moments in the jazz lineage, providing both continuity and relatability.
Segment; Waltz New; Tricotism; Paragon; Conversion; Look for the Light; A Look Inside; Quasimodo; Your Name Never Came Up.
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