368

Red Garland: Red Alone

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Red Garland: Red Alone Solo piano sessions hold only a fraction of the mystique they once did in jazz. These days it’s far from uncommon for a pianist to crank out a session of him- or herself alone at the ivories, the precedence for the practice having long since been set. But back when this recently reissued Moodsville album came out, the format was still relatively fresh. The idea of an improviser left solely to his own devices at the keys carried a heavy bit of clout, as it was usually the province of such unmitigated geniuses as Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk.



Red Garland’s relaxed melodic style meshes seamlessly with the credo of the Moodsville series. In fact, a session of his with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis as co-leader formed the inaugural release in the series. This date comes from a bit later, and according to the session notes engineer, Rudy Van Gelder taped enough material for two separate albums, one focusing on blues, the other on the ballads presented here. Independent of an ensemble and more specifically the Miles Davis quintet, of which he was then a member, Garland comes at the tunes with an emphasis on shading and nuance. As the only musical agents his hands are free to coax subtleties from the song structures that, as noted in the set’s liners, would likely be lost to the necessity of constant communication in the context of a combo. It’s here where this album’s quality really comes to the fore, despite what is on the surface a relatively ordinary clutch of standards.



The other feather in the session’s cap comes with Garland’s decision to stretch out nearly all of the pieces. His reading of “I Got It Bad...” clocks in at over seven minutes and all but two of the remaining tracks register at more than five. The sequencing carries the symmetry, the emphasis on slow, romance rich tempos and languorously lyrical improvisation. A gently rhapsodic rush of notes signals the entrance of “When Your Lover Has Gone” as Garland outlines the theme with brightly burnished right hand lines underscored by dusky diminishing chords from his left. “These Foolish Things” features a similar chiaroscuro preface, which swiftly transitions into a limpid exposition on the cheerful melody. Garland’s hands and fingers are once again in deceptively cunning agreement, each putting its owner’s whims into practice at the speed of thought. Also of exceptional quality is his closing rendition of “When I Fall in Love,” a tune commonly associated with Nat King Cole, one of his nascent influences.



If there are grievances to be lodged, they’re perhaps found in the steady emotional uniformity of much of the performance and the occasional slide into saccharine-sounding embroidery. But these foibles are minor when stacked against the elegance and aplomb Garland brings to his constructions. Listeners with a fondest for the pianist in the numerous group settings that form the bulk of his career would be wise to seek this disc out as evidence of his artistry outside the company of his peers.



Visit Moodsville on the web.


Track Listing: When Your Lover Has Gone/ These Foolish Things/ My Last Affair/ You Are Too Beautiful/ I Got it Bad (And That Ain

Personnel: Red Garland- piano. Recorded: April 2, 1960, NYC.

Title: Red Alone | Year Released: 2004


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC" CD/LP/Track Review Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC
by James Nadal
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Oddara" CD/LP/Track Review Oddara
by James Nadal
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "Narrante" CD/LP/Track Review Narrante
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 7, 2016
Read "All My Treasures" CD/LP/Track Review All My Treasures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "New Focus On Song" CD/LP/Track Review New Focus On Song
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Vitamina D" CD/LP/Track Review Vitamina D
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 28, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.