Red Garland Trio at the Prelude – Prestige/Concord

by | Mar 6, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Red Garland Trio at the Prelude – Prestige/Concord # 2PRCD-24295-2 – 2006 (2 CDs, Disc 1: 72:10, Disc 2: 66:00) ****:

(Red Garland, Piano; Jimmy Rowser, Bass; Charles “Specs” Wright, Drums)

Red Garland’s double CD set, Red Garland Trio at the Prelude – originally recorded on Oct. 2, 1959 – is a pleasant addition to the Garland discography, as it has now been released in its entirety for the first time by Concord Records. Concord had purchased the Fantasy Records discography, which had Prestige Records in its roster of many labels. Tracks from this collection had originally been released piecemeal on four different Prestige LPs, with only one titled Red Garland Trio at the Prelude. Other tracks from this present set were previously released as Red Garland/Little Darlin’; Red Garland/Live; and Red Garland/Satin Doll. In addition this new Concord/Prestige release features three previously unreleased tracks: from Disc 1, there is added Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll. From Disc 2, Ray Noble’s Cherokee and Count Basie’s One O’Clock Jump are added. For the completist, Concord has even added a 31 second false start of Neil Hefti’s classic Lil’ Darlin, also issued in its entirety from the same night on Disc 1.

Another special reason to add this Garland date to your piano trio collection is the fact that Rudy Van Gelder made one of his few forays away from his New Jersey recording studio to handle the engineering duties for this live set. From Van Gelder’s vast (likely thousands) sessions as ace engineer, there are but a fraction of sessions recorded away from his New Jersey recording studios for live recordings.

The highlight of Garland’s career was his 1955-1958 time period spent as the pianist in one of Miles Davis first classic quintets – this one featuring John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones. Garland was often overshadowed in this group due to the magnitude of Davis and Coltrane’s contributions. At the time of Garland’s period with Miles, Ahmad Jamal, one of Miles’ favorite pianists, influenced Red, which is a primary reason that Miles chose Red for this quintet.

The Oct. 2, 1959 date at the Prelude teams Red with two Philadelphia sidemen – Jimmy Rowser on bass, and Charles “Specs” Wright on drums. Wright died at a young age soon after this recording and Rowser went on to work with Dinah Washington.

Listening to the three sets recorded on this evening is like putting on a favorite pair of comfortable shoes and kicking back in your easy chair. No fireworks here, just an enjoyable collection of classic blues, standards, and show tunes. Garland’s usage of block chords, and single note lines and his choice of “feel good” songs – Lil’ Darlin, Satin Doll, Bye Bye Blackbird, Prelude Blues, and A Foggy Day, just to name a few, make this a popular choice as an introduction to Red as a piano trio leader. For those who have only heard Red in the background in the Miles Davis Quintet, you are in for a real treat hearing Red Garland front and center.

— Jeff Krow

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