Nancy Reed and Spencer Reed – Happying (ENG review)

Release Date: June 28, 2024
Nancy Reed and Spencer Reed – Happying

Here is a refreshing album releasing at the end of June. Vocalists Nancy and Spencer Reed will immerse you in their refreshing jazz, reminiscent of the universe of Manhattan Transfer but in a much more intimate style. Nancy and Spencer Reed: Half a century ago, they met in the Bronx projects and forged not only their romantic relationship but also a musical one, influenced by the classic performances of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Carmen McRae, and Jackie and Roy.

Over nearly 50 years since the Reeds moved to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, the couple has had a significant influence on the Poconos jazz scene, with the famous venue Deer Head Inn — known thanks to Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Paul Motian, as well as Phil Woods, Al Cohn, and John Coates — as the epicenter. As some of the best-kept secrets, Nancy and Spencer Reed have played vital roles in this geographical source of music.

It’s beautiful, it’s melodic, and this album is listened to in the same way one would savor a dessert from a great pastry chef. When the voices become instruments and the accompanying instruments match the caliber of these two great artists, one can only approve! With “Happying,” the couple has created seven albums together, and each has participated in several notable records. In Nancy’s case, her long-standing association with the great John Coates Jr. led to the recording “John Coates, Jr. and Nancy Reed Live at the Deer Head Inn,” and she also recorded two albums with the Duke Ellington Legacy Band. In 2005, she recorded the daring “Neighbors” alongside the great saxophonist and Poconos resident Dave Liebman, which received significant exposure and radio play. Spencer has accompanied many artists passing through the Poconos region, including Billy Eckstine, The Fifth Dimension, Robert Goulet, Sergio Franchi, Frankie Laine, Julius LaRosa, Eddie Fisher, and Bobby Rydell, and can even be heard in the historical educational series “Schoolhouse Rock” alongside the legendary Bob Dorough. He also played and recorded with Phil Woods and can be heard on his big band album “New Celebration.”

This album is thus a labor of love and passion, and the same will be true for listeners who will marvel at its beautiful and fun arrangements, spanning styles from the most classic to funk/soul. In the end, one will find that this album perfectly lives up to its title, as it brings a sense of joy and calm. It’s also interesting to know about Spencer Reed’s journey. At 19, he became the guitarist for the Chris Towns Unlimited, performing in uptown nightclubs and at Brown Sugar on 50th Street and 8th Avenue. This group included talented and experienced musicians. Jimmy Lewis, bassist with Count Basie, and the legendary drummer Charles Honeyboy Otis were extremely generous and played a mentoring role in Spencer’s life and career. This experience included recording alongside guitarist Cornell Dupree and the first tour.

The late great bebop and cool jazz singer Bob Dorough once described Nancy and Spencer Reed as follows: “With their twenty fingers and their four lips working as one, Nancy and Spencer Reed guide you through their arrangements with skill and aplomb. They are the most dynamic small group I’ve ever heard!” A friendly tip: get “Happying” and experience its charm without delay. Everything is so well summarized here, making this album a direct entry into our series of “Essentials.”

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, June 26th 2024

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