Online since August 2002

Top sideman, out front

Reviewed March 2006

At the Prelude
At the Prelude
By the Red Garland Trio

Prestige Records: 2006

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

Rd Garland was the pianist to the jazz stars back in the late 1950s, working in a sideman status for the legendary trumpeter Miles Davis from 1955-'58, in what was to become known as the first great quintet of Davis' career. He also backed alto saxophonist Art Pepper on "Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section" in 1957, and he led the rhythm section for saxophone giant John Coltrane the same year on "Traneing In."

That's a bunch of classic late '50s jazz work, with Red Garland in the piano chair.

If you want to hear a classic set under Garland's leadership rather than in the sideman role, the recently reissued "At the Prelude" by the Red Garland Trio is the one. This two-disc live set, recorded at the Prelude in New York in 1959 – the first live recording ever released by Prestige Records – catches the pianist in top form.

Garland's keyboard approach was light and sparkling, with an underlying warmth as he interpreted jewels from the Great American Songbook ("A Foggy Day," "Like Someone in Love"), popular show tunes ("Bye Bye Blackbird"), Ellington ("Satin Doll," "Just Squeeze Me"), and most especially the blues. Garland went deep there, on Oscar Pettiford's "Blues in the Closet," "It's a Blue World" and his own composition, "Bohemian Blues," a glowing gem of the genre in Garland's hands.

Red Garland may have gained more fame as a sideman, but he made timeless sounds under his own name too, on "At the Prelude."

Review by Dan McClenaghan. Dan is a writer living in Oceanside, Calif. Read his biography on his AllAboutJazz.com page.

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