San Francisco Suite: FREDDIE REDD Trio
Freddie Redd (p) George Tucker (b) All Dreares (drs) New York; October, 2, 1957
1. San Francisco Suite: (13:20) (Freddie Redd)
View of the Golden Gate Bridge From Sausalito/ Grant Street (Chinatown)/ Barbary Coast/ Cousin Jimbo's Between 3 And 7 A.M. / Dawn in the City
2. Blue Hour (3:32) (Redd)
3. By Myself (3:42) (Dietz – Schwartz)
1. Old Man River (4:02) (Hammerstein – Kern)
2. Minor Interlude (4:58) (Redd)
3. This Is New (6:29) (Nash-Weill)
4. Nica Steps Out (4:18) (Redd)
If the mid-1950s do not turn out to be noted in future histories of jazz as a "golden age" of piano creativity, it will be more than a little surprising to those of us who sit here these days and marvel at what would appear to be a never-ending flow of new and vastly promising jazz pianists. Almost invariably, and quite naturally, these young musicians are strongly marked by one or more of the established major figures of the era: whether it be the overall aura of Charlie Parker, or the more specific stylistic influence of pianists like Thelonious Monk or Bud Powell. But also almost invariably - and this is not so automatically 'natural' and is therefore a most encouraging sign - these young pianists seem to have a good deal of their own to offer. They indicate from the start that they have concepts, an approach, a sound, with which they can be expected to build something personal and valid. Some, at least, of these many newcomers will surely turn out to be jazz artists of quite considerable importance.
First appearances ca, of course, be highly deceptive. It would be a very rash man - it's even say a foolish one - who would dare to predict dogmatically just who will make the grade and who will fail to live up to early promise. But this sober thought has nothing to do with the necessity for recognizing young talent, and for insisting that the newer voices be heard.
FREDDIE REDD is one of these newer piano voices, a young man with an exciting touch and with a great many of the ingredients necessary for success. A comparatively late starter (he didn't begin to learn to play piano until he was eighteen), he has come to know his instrument well; he has a background of experience working with some very solidly-schooled musicians; he has listened well to basic modern sources - first and probably most deeply to Bud Powell, but also to Monk; he has a sure feeling for the blues; and there is a firmly ambitious flavor to his efforts that is, in itself, exciting and compelling.
This last point is very much in evidence in the opening selection here, the thirteen-and-a-half minute San Francisco Suite. This is best described as a jazz tone poem, a series of impressions of a city that seems to have a deep effect on most New Yorkers who visit it. Redd, who lived and worked there from the Fall of 1956 through the Spring of '57, focuses first on the serene grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge, then on the bustle of Chinatown, the honky-tonk flavor of the Barbary Coast, the special atmosphere of an after-hours club (combining a blues with an up-tempo segment), and finally the particular haunting quality of near-empty city streets a t dawn.
The other half-dozen members are split between standards and originals. Sturdy, unhackneyed tunes by three of the very best of songwriters (Kurt Weill, Jerome Kern, Arthur Schwartz) are given briskly-paced, imaginative workouts. Freddie's own tunes are mostly on the mellow side, with Blue Hour and especially effective mood piece.
Redd was born in New York City in May, 1928, and - either in spite of or because of the fact that his father taught piano- resisted taking lessons as a child. Music caught him rather suddenly: he pins it down to some Charlie Parker records that he heard in 1946; and he then found it natural to turn to the piano. Entering military service very shortly after this (he spent two years on occupation duty in Korea), Freddie proceeded to teach himself to play. He worked with a small combo while still in the Army, and had come along far enough by 1949, when he left the Army, to plunge into full-fledged professional activity. His first New York gig, late in '49, was with Oscar Pettiford; subsequently he worked with Coleman Hawkins, Cootie Williams, the Art Farmer-Gigi Gryce quintet, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, and others. All of this was pretty much a matter of on-the-job training, and in very demanding company; making the grade under those circumstances seems the best sort of recommendation and a clear indication that this is a young man with natural talents and, to say the least, quick aptitude. Early in 1956 he made a successful trip to Sweden, leading a trio that included Tommy Potter and drummer Bill Harris. Then came the San Francisco period. Following his return East, Freddie worked at several Manhattan and Brooklyn spots with the unit he heads on this LP.
One final item: the emphasis at the start of these notes on words like "promising" should not be allowed to mislead anyone. There's never any sense in asking listeners to accept a young musician on the basis of what he will or might go on to accomplish. The fact is that Freddie Redd doesn't have to be presented in terms of future, potential only: regardless of whether he does or doesn't continue to grow into a jazz figure of real significance, he is, right now, a wonderfully driving, inventive and highly listenable performer. That is hardly a commonplace or minor point!
Riverside’s extensive catalogue of 12-inch HIGH FIDELITY jazz LPs includes the work of some of today’s outstanding younger pianists. Among such albums are –
BILL EVANS: New Jazz Conceptions (RLP 12-223)
Riverside Drive: WYNTON KELLY; with Kenny Burrell, Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers (RLP 12-254)
RANDY WESTON: Trio and Solo; with Art Blakey (RLP 12-227)
Jazz a la Bohemia: RANDY WESTON Trio and Cecil Payne – recorded at New York’s Café Bohemia (RLP 12-232)
This Is New: KENNY DREW; with Donald Byrd, Hank Mobley (RLP 12-236)
“Pal Joey”: jazz impressions of the Rodgers & Hart classic by the KENNY DREW Trio; with Philly Joe Jones, Wilbur Ware (RLP 12-249)
Prominent on the Riverside list are several albums by one of the truly major influences of the current jazz era, pianist-composer Thelonious Monk; these include –
Monk’s Music: THELONIOUS MONK Septet; with Coleman Hawkins, Art Blakey, Gigi Gryce (RLP 12-242)
Mulligan Meets Monk: THELONIOUS MONK and GERRY MULLIGAN (RLP 12-247)
Thelonious Himself: solo piano (RLP 12-235)
Brilliant Corners: THELONIOUS MONK; with Sonny Rollins, Ernie Henry, Clark Terry (RLP 12-226)
Other outstanding jazz on Riverside includes –
The Sound of Sonny: SONNY ROLLINS (RLP 12-241)
Jazz Contrasts: KENNY DORHAM; with Sonny Rollins (RLP 12-239)
The Hawk Flies High: COLEMAN HAWKINS; with J. J. Johnson (RLP 12-233)
A Grand Night for Swinging: MUNDELL LOWE; with Billy Taylor, Gene Quill (RLP 12-238)
That’s Him: ABBEY LINCOLN sings, with Sonny Rollins, Kenny Dorham, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers (RLP 12-251)
“Great Ideas of Western Mann”: HERBIE MANN’S Californians (RLP 12-245)
Seven Standards and a Blues: ERNIE HENRY Quartet with Wynton Kelly (RLP 12-248)
The Chicago Sound: WILBUR WARE Quintet, featuring Johnny Griffin (RLP 12-252)
Blues for Tomorrow: modern-jazz versions of the blues;
featuring Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, Art Blakey, Bobby Jaspar, others (RLP 12-243)
(Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve).
Produced, and notes written by, Orrin Keepnews.
Cover design: Paul Bacon. Cover photograph by Dennis Stock (Magnum Photos)
Engineer: Jack Higgins (Reeves Sound Studios).
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS
553 West 51st Street New York 19, N.Y.