RED GARLAND QUARTET: SOLAR
Red Garland (p) Les Spann (g, fl – on Where Are You? and The Very Thought of You) Sam Jones (b) Frank Gant (drs)
New York City; January 30, 1962
Sophisticated Swing (5:26) (Hudson – Parish)
Solar (4:57) (Miles Davis)
Where Are You? (5:14) (Adamson – McHugh)
Marie’ Delight (3:28) (Red Garland)
This Can’t Be Love (4:04) (Rodgers and Hart)
The Very Thought of You (5:25) (Ray Noble)
Blues for ‘News (3:21) (Red Garland)
I Just Can’t See for Looking (5:42) (Robinson – Stanford)
It has reached the point where RED GARLAND’s name has for many people become almost synonymous with “mood jazz”, because of the many pretty trio albums he ahs done. What such listeners seem to forget is that Red can cook with the best of them, as well as being able to play a lovely ballad or a sly blues better than most. In truth, he is one of the most versatile of jazz pianists.
There are some tender moments in this set, to be sure, but the emphasis is on swinging. This quartet swings together as if it were a permanent traveling group. Actually, drummer Frank Gant is the only one who has spent any appreciable length of time in Garland’s regular trio, although Sam Jones (a member of Cannonball Adderley’s sextet), has recorded with Red on other occasions.
Les Spann, formerly with Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, is most recently co-leader of a quintet with Jerome Richardson. Not only does he double on guitar and flute, an unlikely combination of talents, but since his big-time debut with Gillespie, he has continued to improve on both instruments by clearly recognizable leaps and bounds. On this album he concentrates on guitar, fluting only on the two ballads, Where Are You? and Very Thought of You.
Variety is as well represented here as versatility. In addition to the ballads, there are tunes from the past; one selection that qualifies as a standard of the modern jazz repertoire; and two Garland originals.
Sophisticated Swing, the Will Judson number from the 1930s, and I Just Can’t See For Looking, the song King Cole slyly and flyly sang in the ‘40s, are not blues in the 12-bar sense. But they are infused with much blue feeling and Red makes the most of this quality. Cole was one of Garland’s first influences and his tribute is welcome and enjoyable.
Solar, the modern-jazz standard, is by Miles Davis, with whose groups Red had a long-term association. Its unique bar structure, harmonic pattern and interludes keep both player and listener intrigued.
There are exciting exchanges between Spann and Garland, then Garland and Gant, on the solidly swung evergreen, This Can’t Be Love.
The first of Red’s two originals, Marie’s Delight (Marie being his wife), is an infectious line, with its stops and starts making it somewhat reminiscent of Horace Silver’s Cool Eyes. The second, Blues for ‘News (‘News being A&R. man Orrin Keepnews), is a smoker – a minor-key blues that rally leaps to life in Red’s opening solo.
To those who know Red Garland, this set will not surprise; to those who think of him in one groove, it may be upsetting in the best sense of that word as it is applied in jazz. Along with his warm, chordal style, he “blows” long, incisive single line that owe much to Bud Powell; but make no mistake, he speaks them with his own voice. Together with the plastic, economical swinging of Spann’s guitar, the singing bass of Sam Jones and Gant’s booting pulse, “Solar” has a system that can’t lose for winning.
Red Garland is not just one of the most versatile pianists in jazz today, he is one of the very best. A set like this one certainly does much to demonstrate this fact.
Other Jazzland albums by Red Garland include –
Bright and Breezy (JLP 48; Stereo 948)
The Nearness of You (JLP 62; Stereo 962)
Produced by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Recording Engineer: RAY FOWLER (Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios)
Album design: KEN DEARDOFF
Photographs by STEVE SCHAPIRO (Spann photo by LAWRENCE SHUSTAK)
This recording is available in both Stereophonic (JLP 973) and Monaural (JLP 73) form.
JAZZLAND RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York City 36, New York