VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
03 MAR 10 CHRIS SLAWECKI
When the roll is called of great musicians who proved equally adept as a sideman and a leader, pianist Red Garland's name will surely appear near the top of the list. And great jazz musicians are generally great blues musicians too, which Garland proves on Red In Bluesville (1959, OJC) with frequent collaborators drummer Art Taylor and bassist Sam Jones.
They slam, bang and jam on the joyride "Your Red Wagon" (based on a rhythm that, so help me, Sesame Street songwriters lifted for Ernie's hit single "Put Down The Duckie"). With "Trouble In Mind," Garland builds up crescendos that crest and ebb almost before you have the chance to hold them, and the entire trio bounces into Count Basie's updated " 'M Squad' Theme" (from a late '50s TV cop show), then bounces right on out.
Best of all, the trio reaches deep to spiff up two pillars of the jazz and blues pantheons, the traditional "See See Rider" and W. C. Handy's classic "St. Louis Blues." These classics snuggle into sophisticated and well-measured blues meditations, while Garland swirls out notes in waterfalls of rhythmic and melodic perfection that might be ridiculous if they weren't so characteristic.
Better known as pianist in the first great Miles Davis Quintet (with Coltrane), Garland cut his own stellar series of albums for Prestige: quintet dates such as Dig It! and Soul Junction (available in the RVG series), along with trio dates like Groovy and Manteca, featuring master conguero Ray Barretto.
Red Garland Trio, from Groovy [Rudy Van ...
The Red Garland Quintet, from Soul ...
in this playlist.