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  • Julien Fraipont

Red Garland - A garland of red




Hello, my little triplets, How are we doing fine?

I've chosen for this review and the next 4 a topic: Piano Trio. I couldn't start this week with anyone else than Red Garland and his astonishing album A Garland Of Red.


This album was published by Prestige Records and recorded on August 17, 1956, by our good friend RVG in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Between 1956 and 1962, Red Garland made a handful of stellar trio records. And this one is no exception. He was Thirty-Three at the time of this, his first album as a leader. 1956 was also the year of his well-known association with Miles Davis in such albums as, Relaxin', Cookin',...


We begin this album with A Foggy Day. In a medium up-tempo. Already his solo pickup gives the tone. It's like there is nothing else who could fit at that particular time. Just perfect, light and beautiful, so precise rhythmically and always this hint of bebop and blues. Notice also his famous trademark block chord technique.


In opposition, the second piece is a splendid tasteful version of My Romance. In my opinion, the best version ever. Here, we can hear his light touch, his block chord technic but in a ballad context and his amazing sense of lyricism.


What Is This Thing Called Love brings us back to a medium up-tempo. Here again, the swing feel goes all the way around like a frenetic bee in a flower field.


With Gus Kahn's Makin' Whoopee, the trio takes us to a blue elegant wedding party (makin' whoopee). A delightful evening in perspective.


This version of September in the rain is also, for me, one of the best that I ever could listen to. The light touch of Red makes me think of little drops falling on a window. This time, Paul Chambers is the first to improvise and make a really nice contrast with the light theme. The bow makes it darker and it's like the rain intensifies. The sun comes back when the piano solo starts. One more time perfect association.


Little Girl Blue is a stunning slow ballad. You can really feel that they want to take the time to make things perfect. One more time, simplicity is the key. Theme exposed then a little impro and finish. Sounds easy but...


On Charlie Parker's Constellation, you can hear the talent of this trio. in this outrageously fast tempo, everything sounds easy. Amazing.


The last tune of this remarkable album is an original of Red Garland. Blue Red. A beautiful pure Blues. The superb introduction of Chambers is an incredible moment of blues. Perfect use of his instrument, so musical.


I didn't talk about the line up: Red Garland (p), Paul Chambers (b), and the marvelous Art Taylors (d). Art Taylor his really remarkable in simplicity. I love it when a rhythm section is able to support the soloist. They "stay behind" and let the soloist the space to express himself. Really good lesson...


What I really like in this album is the way how simplicity is used. No fancy chords, no fancy arrangement, no artifacts here and there to make it cool. Everything is pure for music. It sounds maybe easy or done millions of time but ask yourself the good questions, Is It so simple or easy?


A garland of Red is some of the finest piano trio jazz you'll find.


Have fun listening!

Go listen to.


Greetings and long life jazz.

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© 2020 par JULIEN FRAIPONT.