Freddie Redd on Blue Note

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Freddie Redd was a hard-bop pianist whose percussive, funk-flavored style had a great deal in common with pianist Horace Silver. But for some reason, Redd recorded far too few albums given his talents, preferring instead to earn his living playing clubs in the U.S. and abroad. Born in New York and largely self-taught, Redd recorded sporadically in the 1950s as a sideman, disappearing for blocks of time while touring. He recorded just three albums for Blue Note—two gems and one bomb.

In February 1960, Redd recorded what is widely considered his masterpiece—Music From “The Connection"—an original soundtrack for an avant-garde, dramatic play centered on the lives of drug-addicted jazz musicians. The quartet on the album featured Freddie Redd (p), Jackie McLean (as), Michael Mattos (b) and Larry Ritchie (d).

Redd's followup album recorded for Blue Note in August 1960 was Shades of Redd, featuring Redd (p), Jackie McLean (as), Tina Brooks (ts), Paul Chambers (b) and Louis Hawes (d). The quality of Redd's originals and the playing by all of the musicians are superb, placing the album on par with Music From “The Connection."

And then for some reason, his third album recorded for Blue Note in January 1961 fell flat and was shelved by the label. The material wasn't issued until 1988 as Redd's Blues, first on vinyl and then on CD in 2002. The album featured Benny Bailey (tp), Jackie McLean (as), Tina Brooks (ts), Freddie Redd (p), Paul Chambers (b) and John Godfrey (d). Listening to all three albums again yesterday, the first two remain remarkable but Redd's Blues clearly falls short, lacking the compositional edge and cohesion of Redd's first two for Blue Note. The one song that stands out is Redd's Somewhere.

Freddie Redd died on March 17, 2021 at age 92.

Here's Music From “The Connection," the full album...



Here's Shades of Redd, the full album...



And here's Redd's Blues, the full album...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.

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