11 MAR 11 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Every so often, a record company nails an album title flat. In the early 1960s, an alto saxophonist from Detroit, Sylvester Kyner, recorded a few albums as Sonny Red with Orrin Keepnews for Jazzland Records. In 2000, Milestone Records put two Sonny Red sets together and christened the compilation Red, Blue & Green to highlight Kyner's featured soloists, guitarist Grant Green and trumpeter Blue Mitchell. Bingo!
Two of Red's tunes swirl in the electric alto currents of Charlie Parker, the jackrabbit "Super 20" and "The Rhythm Thing," which is just crazy with rhythm. In the romantic classic "Moon River," Red and Green exchange solos cool and soft and dry, like the other side of a summer night's pillow (and Paul Desmond). Green paints Red's "The Mode," classic '60s modal jazz, in strokes of vivid, bright color. Red builds up monumental riffing, which his searing tone thoroughly burns down, in "Bye, Bye Blues."
Red's alto sings "Blue Sonny" like another Detroit saxophone giant, Yusef Lateef, moanin' the blues. Drummer Jimmy Cobb (on loan from Miles Davis' band) and pianists Cedar Walton and Barry Harris (another Detroit native) make their own fine contributions throughout.
Though Red's own catalog is limited, you can hear his alto burn and whisper through Paul Quinichette's On The Sunny Side (OJC, 1996), and on Curtis Fuller's debut New Trombone (OJC, '93) and Curtis Fuller With Red Garland (OJC, '95).
Moonlight Becomes You
Curtis Fuller, from With Red Garland