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Red Garland: Red Garland's Piano

David Rickert By

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Red Garland's career got a boost with a stint in Miles Davis's first great quintet, where his laid-back, bluesy style perfectly suited the small group swing of the classic Prestige dates. But Garland was also capable of holding the spotlight all on his own and crafted a series of appealing trio recordings for the same label. Red Garland's Piano (1957) showcases what made the pianist a man worthy of admiration: a firm left hand provided a punchy rhythm while the right hand manufactured bold block chords or glassy arpeggios. Garland had a gentleman's way with mid-tempo tunes, ensuring that "Stompin' At the Savoy" stays at a moderate pace where other performers would have used it as an opportunity to demonstrate their chops.

Garland is similarly graceful on the ballads as well, and perhaps his greatest strength as an improviser is the ability to reconstruct the melody in so many permutations that a five minute rendition of a song isn't a stretch for him. Of course we also have Paul Chambers and Art Taylor, two veterans of the scene who handle the sideman chores expertly. (A Chambers bowed solo is always a treat on these sessions.)

Garland is one of the rare pianists who perfected the piano trio using a healthy supply of craftiness without resorting to cocktail flourishes. This new reissue is a good example of his work.

Track Listing: 1. Please Send Me Someone To Love 2. Stompin' At the Savoy 3. The Very Thought Of You 4. Almost Like Being In Love 5. If I Were A Bell 6. I Know Why (And So Do You) 7. I Can't Give You Anything But Love 8. But Not For Me.

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

Title: Red Garland's Piano | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Prestige Records

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