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Red Garland Trio: It's a Blue World

Derek Taylor By

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One of the hardest working trios of the 50s the Garland/Chambers/Taylor unit recorded more than a dozen sessions for the Prestige label and its subsidiaries during a four year stretch at the close of the decade. In slightly different form with “Philly” Joe Jones replacing Taylor they were also the formidable rhythm section for Miles Davis’ first great quintet with John Coltrane. Both their fecundity and their choice of projects point to the fact that this trio was something special and all of their albums together are well worth exploring. This disc reissues a session that was unavailable in any form until it’s belated release in 1970 and finds the three roaming over a series of standards that were by the time of this recording like second nature to them. Their familiarity with the material carries through in the flawless playing which suffuses this set.

Throughout his lengthy career Garland was frequently faulted for lapsing into so-called cocktail jazz platitudes. As the music on this disc makes abundantly clear the critics who took this stance were often missing the boat. Listening to his recordings as a leader it becomes evident that Garland did often favor the sentimental ballad over the fleet-tempoed intricacies of a hard bop cooker, but that his choice in material by no means dictated any lapse in creativity or artistry. His relaxed and cordial style was simply more suited to mellower numbers.

On the opening version of “This Can’t Be Love” Garland demonstrates his easy sense of swing in a series of choruses that are a model of pleasant romanticism. Chambers soon follows with one of his patented arco solos that sets his bass strings to smoldering. “Since I Fell For You” clocks in at nearly thirteen minutes and the three use every inch of the temporal breadth afforded to squeeze the most out of the unctuous melody. Chambers solo on this one, this time pizzicato, is once again a beautifully rendered exercise on the strings. “Crazy Rhythm” switches gears for a quicksilver run at top speed through the tune’s changes, proving once again that Garland predilection for subdued playing was one of choice and not because of any lack of proficiency. Chamber’s bow and Taylor’s sticks both turn in speedy, if brief solos before the song’s close. “Teach Me Tonight” returns the group to their signature style of languid swing with lengthy solos again from both Garland and Chambers. Throughout the program Taylor sticks mainly to brushes adding even further to the feeling of leisurely repose favored by the group. This is a trio that revels in their shared affinity for a softer sound. Their collective work on this disc ably demonstrates that a preference for the quieter side of jazz doesn’t necessarily imply a dearth of a palpable swing.

Track Listing: This Can

Personnel: Red Garland- piano; Paul Chambers- double bass; Art Taylor- drums.

Title: It's a Blue World | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Prestige Records

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