JJ 09/83: Red Garland at Lush Life, N.Y.

Forty years ago, Barry McRae saw the pianist hang loose amidst the turbulent hard bop of Woody Shaw, Philly Joe Jones and others. First published in Jazz Journal September 1983

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Red Garland in San Francisco in 1977. Photo by Tom Copi

Red Garland, an absentee from the scene for some time, returned to the Greenwich Village club for a week this summer. He did so in style and fronted a group which, in addition to being guided by his own strongly chordal signposting, was driven by Philly Joe Jones’ remorseless ride cymbal and Larry Ridley’s supple bass patterns.

In the front line it had Marshall Ivery, a useful Trane-based tenor saxophonist, who traced familiar routes with conviction, and Woody Shaw, the distinctive trumpet stylist, whose brassy tone, infectious rhyth­mic awareness and creative flow made this an ideal hard bop quintet.

It was Garland who stole the show, however, again proving that the virtues of swing and relaxation can find a comfort­able home in the turmoils of hard bop. The odd clinker suggested a somewhat rusty technique but he gave a superb jazz perfor­mance. It was also one that challenged the theory that it was solely Miles Davis who insisted on the tacit parts in his famous group.

Of his own volition, at Lush Life, Garland brought drama, most especially to the solos of the articulate Shaw, by ‘laying out’ when he saw fit. In fact, everything he did seemed totally appropriate and the evening I caught was a personal triumph for him.