Pianist Red Garland follows up his debut recording A Garland of Red (Prestige, 1956) with what might be his finest statement leading a jazz trio, Red Garland's Piano. Garland continues his association with bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor forming his most durable rhythm section, and one that would record with him on ten of his 45 recordings as a leader. The trio recorded the sides that would become Red Garland's Piano in December 1956 and March 1957 at Rudy Van Gelder's Hackensack, NJ studio. For perspective, between these two dates, in January 1957, Garland and Chambers, along with with drummer Philly Joe Jones, were in Los Angeles with Miles Davis, taking the opportunity to record Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section (Contemporary, 1957).
The trio kicks off the disc with a slow tempo, informed reading of Percy Mayfield's 1950 rhythm & blues hit "Please Send Me Someone To Love." Just short of ten-minutes long, the song proves a master's class in Garland's use of block chords, as well as his keen touch with blues soloing. Paul Chambers provides an impressive support at this slow tempo, setting a solid time for the duration. He solos pizzicato, roundly addressing both the melody and harmonic underpinning. Art Taylor's enduring popularity is well understood in his sensitive percussion approach, with brushes all the way.
Juxtaposed tempo-wise, "Stompin' At The Savoy" is taken at a greater clip than the opener. Taylor continues his understated support with brushes, while Chambers demonstrates his arco soloing amid his precise time keeping. Garland's playing is warm and sunny. The pianist's ballad playing wins the day on this recording with a gentle and relaxed "The Very Thought of You." "I Know Why (And So Do You)" is pensively expressed from the piano, with Garland's upper-register playing precise yet emotive. Chambers' upper neck figures season the piece with the unexpected.
One piece is purloined from contemporary Miles Davis dates, where Garland (and Chambers) were making history with the trumpeter. In October 1956 (just prior to these sides), Garland and Chambers recorded "If I Were a Bell" with Davis' first great quintet as part of Davis' contract-satisfying final recordings for Prestige. Garland's performance here is more relaxed than Davis,' with the pianist slowing things down and taking his time to evolve ideas. It is informative to have both performances to compare. Hard bop begins to quicken as mainstream jazz with these recordings.
Please Send Me Someone To Love; Stompin' At the Savoy; The Very Thought Of You; Almost Like Being In Love; If I Were A
Bell; I Know Why (And So Do You); I Can't Give You Anything But Love; But Not For Me.