HAPPYING may celebrate fifty years of singing and playing together, but I hope the Reeds will continue to create and record for many more years to come.

Reed Jazz Records

Nancy Reed – Bass and Vocals; Spencer Reed – Guitar & Vocals; Bill Goodwin – Drums; Jay Rattman – Alto Saxophone & Clarinet; David Liebman – Soprano Saxophone; Craig Kastelnik – Synthesizer & Hammond Organ; Peter Phillips – Synthesizer; Neil Braunstein – Drums; Ed Ludwig – Tenor Saxophone

Nancy Reed and Spencer Reed’s new album, HAPPYING is the culmination of fifty years of singing and playing together. The married couple share vocals. Nancy plays the bass and Spencer, the guitar. They drew inspiration from Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, Carmen McRae, and Jackie and Roy.

Their musical journey began in the Bronx, but they now call the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania home. They play often at the Deer Head Inn, the oldest continuously running jazz club in the country. Some of the biggest names in jazz have played there, from Keith Jarrett, Phil Woods, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, Dave Liebman, Bob Dorough, and others.

HAPPYING comprises three distinct sessions: one in Brooklyn with Bill Goodwin on drums, another with Nancy’s house band at their home studio and a third session with saxophonist Dave Liebman.

Jackie and Roy sang ‘Cheerful Little Earful ’and Nancy and Spencer match their spot on vocal harmonies and precise rhythms. Jackie Cain put more intensity into her vocals. Nancy Reed is more relaxed, and she can sing and play the bass at the same time. Bill Goodwin is a terrific drummer. Jay Rattman gives a great solo on alto saxophone.

Spencer Reed has a melodious singing voice. It is a mix of Chet Baker and King Pleasure. Leonard Feather wrote the words to Benny Golson’s ‘Whisper Not.’ It’s a beautiful song and the Reeds handle it with loving care. They remind me of the way groups like the Four Freshmen and the Hi-Los sang; with polished, sophisticated, jazz-inspired harmonies.

Chicago had a huge hit with ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is.’ I love what the Reeds did with the song. Nancy is such an expressive singer. She’s intense in a quieter sort of way. She pushes and pulls back the tempo. Dave Liebman’s soprano sax solo is marvelous. After hearing it you will wonder why he only played on one tune.

‘Moanin ’’is slower than Bobby Timmon’s or Art Blakey’s version. The Reeds wanted time to wring as much emotion out of the song as they could. Spencer plays beautiful bluesy guitar while Nancy scats on top. The timbre of her voice is so close to the timbre of the guitar it’s uncanny. Bill Goodwin shows off exquisite brushwork on the cymbals while he and Nancy add a touch of cool percussion by snapping their fingers.

Spencer Reed is a great guitarist. He is tasteful and understated like Jim Hall. His melodic improvisations remind me of Wes Montgomery. He uses complex chord voicings like Joe Pass and he can play bluesy guitar like Grant Green. He may have many influences, but he has developed his own distinctive style.

HAPPYING may celebrate fifty years of singing and playing together, but I hope the Reeds will continue to create and record for many more years to come.