Sweet San Francisco Suite


Freddie Redd's San Francisco Suite: For Jazz Trio (Original Jazz Classics, 1990) captures a rare snapshot of the pianist expertly fronting a trio that romps through standards and originals -- most notably Redd's masterwork, a musical panorama of the City by the Bay drawn across three movements, the title San Francisco Suite.

Using only piano, drum and bass, Redd paints an expansive vision of San Francisco in broad and vivid colorful strokes. Its dawning "View Of the Golden Gate Bridge From Salsalito" awakens in hustling and bustling melody, the busy sound of morning city traffic (this same melody sings of "Barb" to begin the Suite's final movement). In between, Redd surveys "Grant Street (Chinatown)" through a twinkling oriental melody that somehow becomes the down-home Gospel classic "Down By The Riverside" before downshifting into barrel-house blues.

Other Redd originals also merit much praise. The elegant ebullience of "Blue Hour" suggests pianist Red Garland, and Garland's sly as a wink style twinkles through "Minor Interlude," too. And for some reason, the old-time sounding "Old Man River" suits Redd very well, as he wanders through its melody and harmony unhurriedly but powerfully, his piano swelling and ebbing, an irresistible force of music.

If you'd like to hear more Redd, Piano: East/West (OJC, 1991) puts selections by another one of Redd's trios together with quartet tracks led by pianist Hampton Hawes; Redd also appears as pianist on the trumpet/alto summit led by Art Farmer, When Farmer Met Gryce, (OJC, 1994).