Red Garland


Red Garland's Piano

  • Release Date: 21 Mar 2006
  • PRCD-8109-2

“I was the engineer on the recording sessions and I also made the masters for the original LP issues of these albums. Since the advent of the CD, other people have been making the masters. Mastering is the final step in the process of creating the sound of the finished product. Now, thanks to the folks at the Concord Music Group who have given me the opportunity to remaster these albums, I can present my versions of the music on CD using modern technology. I remember the sessions well, … MORE


William "Red" Garland was one of the most popular and influential pianists of the late 1950s and early '60s thanks to his affiliation… More

The blues of William McKinley Garland's native Dallas were a key component of the late pianist's repertoire. Red, as he was known professionally… More

This album includes material recorded at Red Garland's final two sessions for Prestige, and can serve as a summary of the settings he mined so… More

William "Red" Garland played the piano in a way that was at once soulfully elegant and elegantly soulful. Eight of these nine trio… More

One of the most-recorded, often-imitated pianists in jazz history, William “Red” Garland (1923-1984) was in peak form on the night of… More

Red Alert was precisely that, notification that Red Garland was back. Having disappeared from national notice in 1965, Garland played… More

Jazz fans never minded the grey skies when Red Garland was at the piano. He was one of the rare feel-good musicians of the modern era, with a… More

Had Miles Davis not put Red Garland in the piano chair of what was to become the most influential jazz band of the 1950s, the pianist might have… More

Red Garland was an influence for both his trio and quintet work, and this album allows us to hear him in each context. The earlier session… More

From 1946, when he appeared in New York from his native Dallas, Red Garland was in demand as one of the favorite rhythm section pianists of a… More

Red Garland established himself with the Miles Davis quintet and, at the same time, as a recording trio leader on Prestige; a master swinger and… More


Red Garland


“Red Garland has the sublime virtue of swing and a solid, deep groove.”

—Ralph J. Gleason

“The hallmarks are locked chords, lightning single-note lines, rhapsodic out-of-tempo introductions, isolated bell-like notes. Garland generates the hard-edged excitement of hop, yet retains the smooth, swinging, melodic flow common to so many jazzmen from the Southwest.”

—Doug Ramsey

If for no other reason, Red Garland would be everlastingly revered by jazz historians for his role in the great Miles Davis Quintet, vintage 1955-57, which also included John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones, and bassist Paul Chambers. But recently Red was rejoined by Philly Joe, along with Ron Carter, for an historic trio album on Galaxy, Crossings, as well as an impressive comeback album with Garland as leader, Red Alert.

After spending most of the past 12 years in relative obscurity, contentedly playing regular gigs in Dallas, Texas (where he was born May 13, 1923), Garland was lured back by Fantasy VP/producer Orrin Keepnews, and by Todd Barkan, who put Red on his San Francisco Keystone Korner stage before a week’s worth of adoring audiences.

During a recent return engagement, Red recalled the birth of the great Miles quintet: “Miles and I were in Boston, playing separate gigs. One night we were talking, and Miles said, ‘I want to form a band.’ Philly Joe would be the drummer—that was obvious. But Miles wanted Sonny Rollins, and Sonny couldn’t make it. So I told Miles about this tenor player from Philly, John Coltrane. And he said, ‘Tell Coltrane to meet us in Baltimore for the gig.’ And Miles brought Paul Chambers, who was just a 20-year-old kid working in Detroit.”

Word has it, variously, that there was one brief rehearsal before the gig, or no rehearsal at all. Miles’s method, according to Philly Joe, was to have Coltrane—right on the bandstand—lead off a tune with a long tenor solo. “After Trane started to play,” Philly Joe said, “Miles looked at me and said, ‘I think this is it.’” And, as Garland remembers, “After one week in Baltimore it seemed we had played together about five years.”

Garland’s playing with the quintet (best documented on two Prestige twofers, Miles Davis, P-24001, and Workin’ and Steamin’, P-24034) and his present-day style are marked by a light touch, quick sense of humor, and a total lack of pretense or excess fat. Much of this may derive from Red’s 35 professional fights as an unranked lightweight boxer.

Garland’s first instrument was clarinet, and before he settled on the piano he studied alto saxophone with Buster Smith, who had influenced Charlie Parker. Like Hank Jones, Red got his first major job with trumpeter Hot Lips Page, in 1945. He subsequently worked with dozens of top jazz musicians, including Parker, Ben Webster, the Billy Eckstine big band, Coleman Hawkins, and Sonny Stitt, before joining Miles in October 1955. After 1957, he worked in several groups, some his own, with, among others, Donald Byrd and Coltrane. Last year, a Prestige twofer was assembled entirely from previously unreleased material recorded between 1958 and 1961; appropriately, the twofer is titled Rediscovered Masters(P-24078).

As Len Lyons put it in a recent Down Beat: “Garland was obviously glad he’d returned to the scene. ‘It put some sense into me,’ he said. ‘I thought jazz was all finished, but now I see there are still people who love jazz. . . . I’ll stay out here as long as the reception stays as beautiful as it’s been.”

Red Garland died on April 24,1984.