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Red Garland: 'A Garland of Red'


MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: Hello, I'm Murray Horwitz. Pianist Red Garland is one of the those musicians you probably know a lot more about than you think you do, but it's still not enough. He made his biggest splash as a sideman, but today we induct a record under his own name into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library. A Garland of Red is some of the finest piano trio jazz you can find.


HORWITZ: If you read album liner notes, you'll recognize Red Garland's name from Miles Davis records. In fact, he was a member of Miles' first classic quintet, the one with John Coltrane. It was while working in that super group that he began to record a series of trio dates under his own name. From 1956 to 1962, he made a handful of stellar trio records, but this is his first as a leader, and it gives us a glimpse of his sense of identity away from his better-known band mates.


HORWITZ: He had an impeccable sense of swing. He loved the blues. He was a great accompanist, and his own solos are almost textbook examples of how to improvise a composition. He'll take a little figure like this one in "My Romance" and he'll develop it, and expand it wonderfully.


HORWITZ: Another of the real joys of this CD is the playing of one of Red Garland's band mates in the Miles Davis Quintet, the bassist Paul Chambers. And the playing of the drummer Arthur Taylor is good throughout the whole thing. Red Garland stopped playing from 1968 through 1976. He was frustrated with the shrinking opportunities for jazz musicians like him, playing this kind of music.

But this kind of music is timeless. And that's why A Garland of Red on Prestige records is a worthy entry into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library. The NPR Basic Jazz Record Library is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and NPR member stations. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Murray Horwitz

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