Vi Redd: Bird Call

Saxophonist Redd, a sincere and convincing Parker disciple as well as a singer, is well exemplified on this 1962 set with Herb Ellis et al


It was totally appropriate that saxophonist and vocalist Vi Redd should make her debut as a leader with an album entitled Bird Call, for if ever Charlie Parker had an adherent then it was she. Her phraseology and tone constantly conjure up the great man’s style and given that constant bluesy edge, she certainly adopted Parker’s legacy with aplomb. Originally issued on United Artists, the music on this disc garnered considerable praise from the critics of the time.

Initially Redd suffered from the normal setbacks female instrumentalists could endure in the male-dominated jazz world and quite early in her career ducked out of the music scene for a job as a social worker. But upon her return, having acquired a regular gig in LA, she found herself in the studio for two days of recording under the guidance of Leonard Feather – hence Bird Call.

The music, including a couple of Feather originals, mainly swings mightily, the leader bringing a lot of passion to the table, even leading to the accusation that she could be accused of overblowing on the final two tracks. She is suitably supported throughout, with the still underrated Carmell Jones adding some nice touches to pieces like Now’s The Time and I Remember Bird.

Given her added vocals on some tunes, this really was a great introduction to the world of Vi Redd, who continued her considerable time on this earth both performing and educating in equal measures. If we look for a vocal highlight, her negotiation of the convoluted lines of Anthropology in unison with Herb Ellis is pretty impressive.

(1) Now’s The Time; Just Friends; Medley: Cool Blues/Perhaps; I Remember Bird; Old Folks; (2) If I Should Lose You; Summertime; Anthropology; All The Things You Are; I’d Rather Have A Memory Than A Dream (43.47)
(1) Redd (as, v); Carmel Jones (t); Roy Ayers (vib); Russ Freeman (p); Leroy Vinneger (b); Richie Goldberg (d). LA, 21 May 1962.
(2) Redd (as, v); Freeman (p); Herb Ellis (g); Bob Whitlock (b); Goldberg (d). LA, 22 May 1962.
Fresh Sound FSR 1671