Ed Reed

Ed Reed

 Richmond, California, USA

Jazz Ballads/Swing/Blues



  • Voted #1 Rising Star in Male Vocalist category (2014) in DownBeat's Annual Critics Poll
  • DownBeat Editor's Pick, October 2013, "I'm a Shy Guy"
  • DownBeat Editor's Pick, July 2011, "Born to Be Blue"
  • DownBeat Annual Critics Poll: Placed in Male Vocalist category 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012
  • DownBeat Annual Readers Poll: placed in Male Vocalist category, 2011
  • Jazz Journalists Association's Local Jazz Hero award, 2011

Ed Reed was born on February 2, 1929, in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1936. At age 11, he learned how to sing to chord changes from his neighbor's younger brother, then-teenage bassist Charles Mingus. At 17, he dropped out of school and joined the army where he got into drugs. After leaving the service with a general discharge, he sang in talent shows and amateur nights, and performed as a vocalist with a combo led by now-legendary trumpeter Dupree Bolton, but his addiction to drugs undermined his singing career.

Reed spent more than a decade of his life behind bars for crimes related to heroin addiction, yet those years weren't entirely wasted, as he had the opportunity to rub shoulders and even perform with such jazz greats as Art Pepper, Dexter Gordon, and Frank Butler in the San Quentin Warden's Jazz Band.

Reed's story has become one of triumph of the human spirit over great adversity. He has been clean and sober since 1986 and continues to work as a health educator, lecturer, and trainer with addicts/alcoholics, their families, and program staff.

Reed started singing again publicly in the early 1990s. In 2005, he attended JazzCamp West where New York-based multi-instrumentalist Peck Allmond first heard him. This resulted in Reed's recording debut just before his 78th birthday with the widely acclaimed Ed Reed Sings Love Stories (2007), produced by Bud Spangler and followed a year later with The Song Is You. Allmond, who plays on both projects, wrote the arrangements for both albums and produced the second CD.

The concept for his third CD, Born to Be Blue (2011) was conceived during Reed's 5-night gig at Marians Jazz Room in Switzerland in 2009. The CD was an October 2011 DownBeat Editor's pick. In the words of one reviewer, the project "possesses all the distilled emotion and narrative coherence of a jazz masterpiece."

I'm a Shy Guy (2013) honors Reed's special relationship to the music of the King Cole Trio. As a self-conscious adolescent, it was easier for him to "talk" to girls on the phone by singing Trio ballads he heard on the radio. When the Trio came to his high school and met with members of the school choir after the performance, Reed was too shy to say hello or shake the hand of his hero, Nat Cole, when Cole stopped to talk to him. This project gave him the chance to revisit those old tunes (and feelings).  DownBeat writes: "Many singers have done Cole tributes recently, but Reed's is among the best. Without stooping to imitate, he captures the spirit of Cole's wry humor and charm." The CD received a 4-star DownBeat review and selection as a DownBeat Editor's Pick.

In just a few short years, Ed Reed's music has been critically acclaimed and reviewed in myriad print and online jazz publications (including DownBeat, Jazziz, and JazzTimes to name a few), Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, and the Boston Globe. He was a guest on Marian McPartland's icionic "Piano Jazz" radio show on NPR stations in 2008, was profiled by Nat Hentoff in the Wall Street Journal in June 2009, and placed in the Male Vocalist Rising Star category of the Downbeat Critic's Poll in 6 out of the last 7 years - in 2014, he was voted #1 in that category.

Ed Reed has performed at internationally renowned clubs in New York, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and Bern, Switzerland. He was also a featured interviewee in "The Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story," a critically acclaimed film documentary released in 2014, and had the honor of giving a TEDx talk in Santa Cruz, CA in 2015.

Terri Hinte

Maxine Harvard



CD-I'm a Shy Guy (2013)
CD-Born to Be Blue (2011)
CD-The Song Is You (2008)
CD-Ed Reed Sings Love Stories (2007)

Available on CD Baby, Amazon, Digstation, iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, and many other popular digital sites.

Set List


I Just Can't See For Lookin'
Baby Baby All the Time
Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby
I'm a Shy Guy
That's the Beginning of the End
Meet Me At No Special Place
I'm Lost
'Tis Autumn
It's Only a Paper Moon
That Ain't Right
I Realize Now
This Will Make You Laugh
Straighten Up and Fly Right

Born To Be Blue
(Wells, Torme)

Monk's Dream
(Monk, Hendricks)

Wee Baby Blues
(Turner, Johnson)

Old Country
(Lewis, Adderley)

Throw It Away
(A. (Lincoln)

A Sleepin Bee
(Arlen, Capote)

A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing

Never Kiss And Run
(Engvick, LaDrue, Dononcin)

Some Other Time
(Comden, Green, Bernstein)

Inside a Silent Tear
(King, B. Dearie)

Why Did I Choose You
(Martin, Leonard)

Here's To Life
(Butler, Molinary)