Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

October 18, 2004

Renowned Jazz Pianist Eric Reed to Perform with Whitworth Jazz Ensemble

Renowned jazz pianist Eric Reed, whose work is marked by hard-driving swing, daring expression, sophistication and elegance in artistry, will perform in concert with the award-winning Whitworth Jazz Ensemble on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Reed and the Whitworth ensemble, which has won first place five times in the past eight years at the annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, will perform at 8 p.m. in Cowles Auditorium at Whitworth College. Tickets are $10. For tickets, contact TicketsWest at (509) 325-7328 or www.ticketswest.com, call the Whitworth music office at (509) 777-3280, or pay at the door the evening of the concert.

Reed will also conduct a free jazz clinic for Whitworth students, Spokane-area students, and the general public on Friday, Nov. 5, at 5:15 p.m. in the Music Building Recital Hall at Whitworth. For more information, please call the music office at (509) 777-3280.

"Reed's pianos solos are always fresh and new; he never repeats himself," says Dan Keberle, chair of the Whitworth Music Department and director of jazz studies. "His creativity is why I was so interested in bringing him to Whitworth, and most certainly is why the great jazz musician Wynton Marsalis has used Reed as pianist in his groups for so many years."

During the concert, Reed will perform as soloist on a variety of jazz-band tunes including Basie-style swing, fast swing, ballads and Latin style. Whitworth senior jazz pianist Erik Hjelt will also play a piano duo with Eric Reed; the two pianists will decide which tune to play at the moment when they meet at the piano.

Born in Philadelphia, Penn., in 1970, Reed 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," Reed says, in his website's promotional materials. "He was my earliest musical influence, and I also was hit heavily by Edwin Hawkins' music of the 1970s. Gospel music remains a large part of my playing today."

Reed started playing piano at age two and began formal instruction at age seven, but he remains primarily self-taught. He often did not learn the written music, but listened to his teachers play it first and memorized the pieces note-for-note.

"I wasn't interested in Bach at the time; I was checking out Horace Silver," Reed says. After Reed's family moved to Los Angeles, an instructor at the R.D. Colburn School of Arts realized that the then-11-year-old Reed would not tolerate the classics. The teacher directed him toward the recordings of the great jazz pianists, which he absorbed enthusiastically.

"My neighborhood library had all kinds of hip jazz records and I was in there every day checking them out," Reed says. "Everything was there: Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner - it was unbelievable!" By the time he was 13, "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, Reed could be heard around Los Angeles leading his own groups and working in the bands of Teddy Edwards, Gerald Wilson and John Clayton. Reed has toured with Wynton Marsalis, appeared with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and performed in the bands of Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson.

In addition to leading the Eric Reed Quintet, Reed tours the world with his ensembles and teaches jazz piano worldwide. When he's not at the piano, he serves as the artistic director of the concert series Jazz Composer Portraits, at Columbia University's Miller Theater. Reed continues to perform and record with master musicians such as Elvin Jones, Benny Carter, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Cassandra Wilson, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, and Dianne Reeves, as well as with Natalie Cole, Patti Labelle, Oleta Adams, Edwin Hawkins, Jessye Norman and Quincy Jones.

Reed has recorded 12 albums: Soldier's Hymn, (1990), It's Alright to Swing (1993), The Swing and I (1994), West Coast Jazz Summit (1995), Musicale (1996), Pure Imagination (1997), Manhattan Melodies (1999), Happiness (2001), E-Bop (2003), From My Heart (2002), Mercy and Grace (2003) and Merry Music (2003).

Reed's Pure Imagination stayed at #1 on the Gavin chart for seven weeks, which earned him the 1999 Gavin Artist of the Year. Manhattan Melodies was also #1 on the Gavin chart for several weeks. Reed has written the scores for films such as Life, One of Us Tripped, and The Firing Squad. He has also appeared on albums with jazz musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Victor Goines and Wycliffe Gordon.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Daniel Keberle, professor of music, Whitworth College, (509) 777- 4582 or dkeberle@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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