I was driving to work this morning and on KCSM the DJ mentioned that it was Red Garland's birthday. So, I decided today was a good day to start my blog. I've been considering it for the last few days, but wasn't sure if I was going to jump in or not. Well, I'm a big Red Garland fan, and I decided this was a sign. So, here I am.
"A Garland of Red" was Red Garland's first album as a leader of his own trio. He signed a five-year contract with Prestige Records after Miles Davis tapped him to be in his quintet and people began to take notice of his talent. Of course, this is Davis' first great quintet, with John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones. Red recorded many trio albums with Paul Chambers (bass) and Arthur Taylor (drums).
This album has some jazz standards, opening with Gershwin's "A Foggy Day," followed by Rodgers and Hart's "My Romance." Both of which are fine covers that portray the tone of the lyrics, though all the songs on this album are instrumentals. Then Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love" really swings in the hands of this trio. They end side one with a slightly bluesy "Makin' Whoopee."
Side two opens with an uptempo "September in the Rain," which has great bowing by Paul Chambers. Then they slow down again with another Rodgers and Hart song, "Little Girl Blue." Before going out, they really kick into gear with Charlie Parker's "Constellation." They end with a Garland original, "Blue Red."
"The word garland immediately brings to mind a string or wreath of beautiful flowers. It also represents a collection of short literary pieces usually consisting of poems and ballads. Without considering it a semantic license, I believe I can assume that garland applies in the same sense to this collection of short musical pieces consisting of standards (ballad tempo and above), a blues and an original. In this collection, however, there are two garlands, the one being presented and the one who presents it." - Ira Gitler