Red Garland is probably known more for his work as a sideman; I mean, he was the pianist for Miles Davis’s “First Great Quintet,” which would be a career peak for just about anybody, and also worked with John Coltrane on several recordings in the 1960s. But he recorded plenty of times as a band leader as well. 1961’s Soul Burnin’ isn’t the best known of his albums as a leader (in fact it’s a mash of tracks recorded on three different sessions with three different sets of personnel, although we’ll only hear two of them in this post), but it is the one that jumped off the shelf at me just now and so it’s the one you’re getting. As always, feel free to drop a line to our complaints department.
As I say, the personnel changes on this album because its a mix of sessions. For these first two tracks, Garland was joined by Richard Williams on trumpet, Oliver Nelson on saxophones, Peck Morrison on bass, and Charlie Persip on drums:
“On Green Dolphin Street,” written in 1947 by Bronislaw Kaper and Ned Washington, is almost the definition of a jazz standard. Garland states the melody and takes a long first solo, followed by Nelson on tenor and a muted Williams:
Tadd Dameron’s classic “If You Could See Me Now” comes next, and follows a similar format: Garland takes the melody before moving into a nifty double-time solo, then giving way first to Williams and then Nelson (this time on alto):
Now the personnel switches to a trio: Garland with Sam Jones on bass and Arthur Taylor on drums.
“Rocks in My Bed” was written by Duke Ellington in 1941 and this is a really great version of it. Jones’s bass is particularly killer:
Garland himself wrote “Soul Burnin’,” a medium-fast swing number that, as you might expect, really lets Garland shine:
“Blues in the Night” is another standard, written by Harold Allen and Johnny Mercer in 1941 for the film of the same name. It features Garland all the way through:
The CD reissue includes a bonus track, “A Little Bit of Basie,” written by Garland and featuring a third ensemble. You’ll have to track that one down for yourselves.