Remembering Ed Reed

February 5, 1929 – January 31, 2024

A tribute to the veteran jazz singer

Jazz singer Ed Reed passed away on Jan. 31, 2024 at the age of 94.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio on Feb. 5, 1929, Reed took a very long time before he began to sing regularly in public.

He had early lessons from Charles Mingus, joined the Army when he was 17, and soon became a heroin addict, an affliction that plagued him or much of his life.

Ed Reed was in and out of jail due to heroin possession during 1951-66 and did not quit drugs until he was around 60.

Reed did not record his first album until when he was 78 but sounded surprisingly youthful, creating fresh renditions of standards.

He wrote his no-holds-barred memoirs (Double Helix) with his wife Diane Reed, recorded four albums during 2006-13, and was on a recording by tenor-saxophonist Jessica Jones in 2018 when he was 89.

Ed Reed was 86 at the time of this version of “A Sleeping Bee” from 2015; he is joined by pianist George Cables, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer Akira Tana.

-Scott Yanow


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