It’s All Right to Swing,” proclaims the title of Eric Reed’s current MoJazz album — and if anyone can think of a more trenchant summary of how this young pianist operated Friday night at the Club Brasserie, let’s hear it.
No one has ever had to ask this listener’s permission to swing, but many of the young neo-boppers who have swarmed over the jazz world seem too much in awe of their ancestors to cut loose. Not Reed, who’s the most exuberant of a short yet distinguished line of pianists whom Wynton Marsalis has nurtured. In addition to his recent work with Marsalis, Reed also lit a fire underneath Joe Henderson’s rhythm section two years ago at Catalina’s.
Upon entering the Brasserie, the Bel Age Hotel’s comfortable jazz spot, Reed whipped up a fine, swinging, heavily chorded lather with “Wade in the Water,” shrugging off the idiosyncrasies of the out-of-tune house Steinway. He wasn’t afraid to use repetition to create excitement, riffing joyously as he pushed his pickup rhythm section harder and harder.
“What’s New,” the sole ballad in the first set, evolved into a series of big locked-hands hammering chords — Brubeck without the polytonal quirks, perhaps — and a quote from “Stolen Moments” at the end.
In his funky closing number, Reed effectively used a revolving bass pattern in the home stretch to ignite his skilled drummer Ralph Penland, and the steady if oddly pitchless (blame the sound system) bass of Robert Hurst, another mainstay in the Marsalis cartel.
In other words, it was not a time for lyrical introspection or cerebral musing; just a straight-ahead, soul- and neo-bop-drenched celebration.
The TGIF-night crowd, alas, chattered inattentively throughout.