Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
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." Afterwards, young Reed was bitten by the Jazz bug after hearing recordings of Art Blakey, Ramsey Lewis and Dave Brubeck. He began his life in music when he was two years old with an interest in the drums. He gravitated to the piano and began formal lessons at five, eventually studying with influential teacher Vernon Lathon. Memorable influences at this time included the music that Reed heard in church, including pianists Shirley Easley and Sadie Armstrong. 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. 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. He listened to Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner and many others. 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. 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.
He has taught through the Lincoln Center Institute, 1996-98 at New York area public schools, and at Essentially Ellington - 1998, 2000, as well as numerous residences at Berklee College, Juilliard, and others schools and festivals internationally.
Soldier's Hymn; It's Alright To Swing; The Swing And I; Musicale (Featuring Ron Carter And Nicholas Payton); Pure Imagination; Manhattan Melodies (Featuring Dianne Reeves); Happiness; From My Heart; We (with Wyclifffe Gordon); e-bop; Mercy and Grace; Merry Magic
Wynton Marsalis: Blood on the Fields, Citi Movement, In This House, On This Morning, Joe Cool's Blues, Jump Start and Jazz, Standard Time, Vol. 5: The Midnight Blues, Standard Time, Vol. 6: Mr. Jelly Lord, Reel Time, Live at the Village Vanguard; Backbeat (Original score/soundtrack featuring Terence Blanchard, Don Was); Clark Terry: One on One; Marcus Printup: Song for the Beautiful Woman; Wycliffe Gordon: Slidin' Home, The Gospel Truth, The Search; Rodney Whitaker: Blues and Ballads; Marlon Jordan: Undaunted; Willie Jones III: Straight Swingin', Vol. 1; Wessell Anderson: Warmdaddy in the Garden of Swing; Bob Belden: Shades of Blue; Dave Ellis: In the Long Run; Andy Farber & Andrew Williams: Double 'A'; Ben Wolfe: 13 Sketches; Victor Goines: Joe's Blues, To Those We Love So Dearly;Various Artists: Mojazz Christmas Album, West Coast Jazz Summit, Thank You, Joe!: Tribute to Joe Henderson, Thank You, Duke! Our Tribute To Duke Ellington, Jazz at Lincoln Center: They Came to Swing, Esquire Jazz Collection, Swing into Christmas
As composer: Life, One of Us Tripped, The Firing Squad
Awards and honors:
Jazz at Lincoln Center Commission: "A Love Story," November 1997
Jazz at Lincoln Center Commission: "The Word of God," November 2000
Award/Gavin Jazz Artist of the Year, 1999