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Four Classic Albums

Avid Jazz AMSC1280 [79:05 + 80:21]




CD 1

Red Garland Trio - A Garland Of Red

  1. A Foggy Day

  2. My Romance

  3. What Is This Thing Called Love

  4. Makin' Whoopee

  5. September In The Rain

  6. Little Girl Blue

  7. Constellation

  8. Blue Red

    Red Garland - Piano

    Paul Chambers - Bass

    Arthur Taylor - Drums

    Red Garland Quintet - All Mornin' Long

  1. All Mornin' Long

  2. They Can't Take That Away From Me

  3. Our Delight

    Red Garland - Piano

    John Coltrane - Tenor Sax

    Donald Byrd - Trumpet

    George Joyner - Bass

    Arthur Taylor - Drums


    Red Garland Trio - Groovy

  1. C-Jam Blues

  2. Gone Again

  3. Will You Still Be Mine?

  4. Willow Weep For Me!

  5. What Can I Say (After I Say I'm Sorry?)

  6. Hey Now

    Red Garland - Piano

    Paul Chambers - Bass

    Arthur Taylor - Drums

    Red Garland Trio - All Kinds Of Weather

  1. Rain

  2. Summertime

  3. Stormy Weather

  4. Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year

  5. Winter Wonderland

  6. 'Tis Autumn

    Red Garland - Piano

    Paul Chambers - Bass

    Arthur Taylor - Drums

    Three of the albums represented here feature the trio of the Dallas-born pianist Red Garland, a force to be reckoned with in the mid-to-late nineteen fifties. The fourth is of his quintet and counts as one of Garland's finest recordings. The personnel remained unchanged in each case for the trio dates. Garland himself was Miles Davis' pianist of choice from late 1955 through most of 1957, and again in 1958-59. Paul Chambers, a bassist in the tonal walking line tradition of Jimmy Blanton, was also with the Davis quintet and subsequently with his sextet, a sideman with Davis for no less than seven and a half years. Art Taylor, listed on the credits here as 'Arthur', was a dynamic musician who was effectively by the late '50s the house drummer for the Prestige label. He was to appear on almost three hundred recordings. Paul Chambers was absent from the Garland Quintet session. George Joyner, who later in his career was known variously as Jamil Nasser or Jamil Sulieman, took the bass spot on that occasion. Also present were the lyrical trumpet player Donald Byrd and a saxophonist who was to become a jazz great, John Coltrane. Byrd had first made his mark with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and became the 'go-to' studio trumpeter for several record labels. Coltrane, at this time, had finally emerged from a period of struggle with problems involving drugs and alcohol and was on the way to his later eminence.

    Six of the tracks on A Garland Of Red are standards, with a Charlie Parker original Constellation, and a composition by Garland, Blue Red, making up the set. The tender and expressive treatment of the Rodgers and Hart ballad, Little Girl Blue, edges it as the standout track. All the standards receive supple and assured attention from Garland with stalwart support from Chambers and Taylor. Chambers gets quite a lot of solo time and makes the most of the opportunities, often with bowed bass (not always his strong suit but certainly influencing other bassists to take up the bow). The boppish Constellation gives Taylor a chance to show his mettle on drums which he does with vigour and aplomb. Blue Red lives up to its name from Chambers' extended introduction on bass to Garland's evocative piano exploration. As already mentioned, the All Mornin' Long album was a Garland classic. The title track is exceptional, both in duration (over twenty minutes) and quality. Coltrane contributes a tenor solo of substance. Donald Byrd on trumpet displays that exquisite tone of his, backed by the swinging and percussive Garland. There's a classy solo from George Joyner, too, showing that he was no slouch either. The ensemble sound is a joy. As for They Can't Take That Away From Me, Byrd is lyricism personified, Coltrane positively buzzing and Garland firmly in the groove. Tadd Dameron's Our Delight concludes the disc. There's a robust Coltrane solo to enjoy, seemingly effortless playing from Byrd and a rhythm section in full flow, led by Garland.

    The first of the two albums on the second CD is by the trio and entitled Groovy. This is my personal favourite among the discs included here. The familiar Ellington classic, C-Jam Blues, receives a thorough and dynamic work-out from the group. Gone Again, a ballad associated with Lionel Hampton, is very easy on the ear, thanks to Garland's creative and mellow performance and Chambers' fine solo. The standard Willow Weep For Me! (I'm not quite sure why the exclamation mark appears in the title) is a tour de force with an imaginative Chambers solo and blues-drenched piano from Garland. Will You Still Be Mine? is played at speed by all concerned, and with phenomenal technique, too. What Can I Say (After I Say I'm Sorry?) is pacey and purposeful while Hey Now, a Garland original, is distinguished by confident, assured performances all round. The final album, All Kinds Of Weather, is unsurprisingly a selection of tunes on the title theme. Stormy Weather lasts over ten minutes and so allows a leisurely exploration of the melody including an almost three minute long solo from Chambers. There's an appealing ruefulness of tone throughout. Another standard, Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year, gives an early nod to Mendelssohn's Spring Song. I liked Taylor's crisp handiwork on drums for this one. Winter Wonderland, a popular seasonal favourite, may be difficult to do anything innovative with but Garland gives it a shot. Rain and Summertime are both fine. 'Tis Autumn (not known to me previously) is, however, unexceptional and even a tad soporific. Of course, that may simply be a consequence of binge listening.

    We continue to owe Avid Jazz a debt for allowing us to revisit, or discover for the first time, gems from decades ago. In this case, an impeccable choice of material, played by musicians among the finest of their generation, makes for entirely enjoyable listening. It was a bonus, also, to be able to read Ira Gitler's informative sleeve notes for all four albums.

    James Poore


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