Jeff Reed, Look For The Light is reviewed by Jeff Reed

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Jeff Reed


Jeff Reed


July • August 2020 • Issue 391Page SeventeenJEFF REEDLook For the LightSTRICKER STREET RECORDSJeff Reed is an acoustic bassist, electric bassist, composer and educator, currently residing in Balti-more, MD, and part of the vibrant DMV (District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia) jazz scene. “Look For the Light” is his first release as a leader and offers jazz standards and original material. The album was inspired by the birth of Reed’s son Fox in 2011. Reed explains, “In the days after my son was born, I was re-flecting on the power of the moment of his birth. It was a moment of great change in my life and also meant I had a new partner to share my journey with. One who I had only just met but felt as though I’d known him my whole life.”I was more familiar with members of his band than Reed himself having seen drummer Eric Kennedy, trumpeter Sean Jones and bass clarinetist Todd Marcus live as well as enjoyed their work on various recordings. Guitarist Jonathan Epley, like Reed, was someone I was previously not been familiar with. In any event, this is an exceptional band performing an engaging program that provides plenty of opportunities to showcase all the band members. The program includes a couple of lesser-known Charlie Parker compositions, along with ones from Jim Hall, Oscar Pettiford, and Kenny Drew Jr., in addition to Reed’s four originals. Reed’s taut, assured bass, helps start Parker’s “Segment,” with Jones’ bright, melodic trumpet followed by Marcus’ deep, woody bass clarinet playing and then Epley’s fleet guitar. Marcus is one of several bass clarinet specialists. The front-line with Jones might evoke comparisons with Eric Dolphy and Booker Little, although their playing is not as dissonant. Hall’s “Waltz New” is a trio performance by Epley, Reed, and Kennedy with Epley displaying a gorgeous tone. Pettiford’s “Tricotism” allows Reed to showcase his prodigious technique as well as his skill in developing a solo as well as anchor the performance. After Marcus and Epley solo, Reed trades fours with Kennedy on a sterling performance.As a composer, Reed conjures exquisite melodies and themes such as heard on “Paragon” and “Conver-sion.” The latter is built on a mesmerizing bass line with the band negotiating its changes and tempo shifts. The title track builds on a beautifully simple theme. There are sublime solos, with Marcus and Jones both exhibiting considerable warmth in their solos. Parker’s “Quasimodo,” is a first-rate feature for Jones’ bright, dulcet trumpet supported just by Reed and Kennedy.With consistent first-rate playing and the terrific tunes performed, “Look For The Light” is an outstand-ing recording. Ron Weinstock

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