Red Garland Trio: Swingin’ on the Korner

“Garland’s Swingin’ on the Korner is culled from pristine board tapes and it finds the incendiary mainstream pianist in the equally explosive company of his old stable-mate, drummer Philly Joe Jones, and bassist  Leroy Vinegar.” Kirk Silsbee,  Downbeat Magazine,   March 2015

Red Garland Trio - Swingin' on the Korner (cover)
© Brian McMillen

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Legendary jazz critic Nat Hentoff calls him a pianist “with infectiously lyrical inherent swing — and surprises that flowed as naturally as his beat.”

Renowned historian and journalist Ira Gitler calls him “one the most multi-dimensional, solid-swinging, deeply lyrical piano stylists in our music, an unmistakably multi-dimensional artist who contributed so much to the groups of Miles Davis, Coleman Hawkins, and so many others.”

Torch-bearing pianist Benny Green says that each of his performances “addresses a full spectrum of emotion, and the innate sense of hipness, taste, and timing seemingly possessed by only the greatest voices of the music creates a musical brew which maintains its pure cool and freshness throughout the ages.”

Universally respected drummer Kenny Washington simply calls him, “one of the masters.”

Despite such high praise from these undoubted authorities, and his integral role in the first great Miles Davis Quintet, Red Garland’s name is too rarely mentioned in the pantheon of jazz greats. With the release of Swingin’ on the Korner on January 20, Elemental Music helps to remedy those oversights with the release of over 150 minutes of previously unheard live Red Garland performances on two CDs or 3 LPs, recorded in 1977 at San Francisco’s landmark Keystone Korner jazz club with a once-in-a-lifetime trio. None of this material has ever been released – officially or otherwise.

This swinging treasure trove arrives with a 44 page booklet including essays by the aforementioned experts (Nat Hentoff, Ira Gitler, Don Schlitten, Doug Ramsey, Benny Green, Kenny Washington, with an introduction by producers Zev Feldman and Todd Barkan) as well as photographs taken during the actual concerts by Keystone staff photographer Tom Copi. Images, information and music combine to transport listeners back to a magical week in one of jazz’s most beloved rooms. Additionally, the booklet includes an article on Red Garland from Doug Ramsey “Seeing Red”, printed with permission from Texas Monthly that ran back in 1979. As producer Zev Feldman says, “this may be one of the most important projects I’ve ever worked on and I’ve had the pleasure to co-produce this with Todd Barkan. I was determined from the start to build the most exhaustive package ever created for Garland that truly celebrates his memory. There’s never been a book on Red, and this is the closest there is. We built this and I couldn’t be more proud. He deserves it”. Fans will learn about Red via music but also by critical voices who have something to say about this master who has sadly been gone now for over 31 years.” (he passed away in 1983).

Red Garland with Philly Joe Jones and Leroy Vinnegar
Photograph (c) Tom Copi/San Francisco, all rights reserved

Our time machine arrives in December, 1977, as Garland is reunited with his bandmate from the Miles Davis Quintet, legendary drummer Philly Joe Jones. For the first and only time, Garland and Jones were joined for the occasion by bassist Leroy Vinnegar, best known for his recordings with Stan Getz, Chet Baker, and Lee Konitz, among others. The trio was the brainchild of Keystone Korner owner Todd Barkan, who aimed (successfully, as these recordings attest) to turn the engagement into a special, exclusive occasion.

“Red played the Keystone a few other times,” says Feldman, “but this time was the most memorable because the band is so great. You couldn’t ask to have better sidemen that what we have here, and we culled through an entire week of performances to get the best stuff.”

The result is a uniformly high-caliber selection, though highlights abound, including the album’s opener, a rousing, 13-minute rendition of “Love for Sale” that begins with an epic solo introduction by Garland, playfully incorporating a touch of Beethoven’s “Für Elise” before leaping into the brisk, swinging tune. “Love for Sale” delivers both power and sensitivity. The set also includes a sprinting version of “Billy Boy” (familiar from Davis’ Milestones) that shows off Vinnegar’s muscular walking lines; a prime example of Garland’s tender ballad playing on “Never Let Me Go;” and a nod to the season with a poignant take on Mel Tormé’s classic “The Christmas Song.” Of course it wouldn’t be a Red Garland without blues and ballads which fans will be happy to know are included in ample form.

Red Garland
Photograph (c) Tom Copi/San Francisco, all rights reserved

Swingin’ on the Korner follows the release of Elemental’s acclaimed set of previously unreleased Jimmy Giuffre live recordings, New York Concerts, and the label’s sophomore effort maintains its impeccable standards of quality and thoroughness. “I wanted to assemble one of the best packages ever for Red Garland,” Feldman says. “He’s one of my heroes and I wanted to help celebrate his legacy.”

He achieves that goal with a set that surrounds this fantastic music with writings by Todd Barkan, providing a first-hand account of these scintillating concerts; Nat Hentoff, who discusses Garland’s rich life and legacy; Ira Gitler, who delves deep into Garland’s style and his influential use of block chords; Benny Green, who recalls discovering Garland after the pianist returned from a long dormant period in the 1960s and the profound influence he had on the younger pianist; and Kenny Washington, sharing his personal memories of the pianist, who Washington got to know in the last years of his life.

Washington also offered key assistance in identifying the material, no small order when dealing with a repertoire as vast as Red Garland’s. One tune in particular proved daunting, referred to only as “Unidentified Ballad” until very late in the process. Through Feldman’s network of connections, the piece finally found its way to the ears of vocalist Sheila Jordan, who pegged it as “If I’m Lucky,” the theme song for an obscure 1946 movie originally sung by Perry Como (who also appeared in the film alongside Carmen Miranda). The package was designed & built by Burton Yount whose recent collaborations with producer Feldman include Jimmy Giuffre’s New York Concerts, Bill Evans Live at Top of The Gate, and Wes Montgomery’s Echoes of Indiana Avenue.

On the project’s origins, Feldman recalls, “In 2013 when Elemental’s owner Jordi Soley and I were starting the label, we were determined to find important previously unissued recordings. These tapes came from Todd’s archives and upon even seeing these tapes existed, we immediately knew how rare they were and that they needed to be issued. I’m very grateful to Jordi for his support in this project. I presented my plan to build the greatest release ever for Red and I was given free reign to do what I felt was best. The results are a one-of-a-kind reference guide in addition to wonderful recordings. I am grateful to Mr. Soley.”

Feldman continues: “This is an important recording; a discovery coming to light from a period where Red really wasn’t recording that much. I hope it kicks the door open for people to go back and revisit his music, to stop and evaluate who this man was: a great musician and great artist.”

The 2 CD / 3 LP set is available January 20th, 2015 on Elemental Music, distributed in the U.S. by INgrooves/Universal Music Distribution.

PRESS CONTACT:
Matt Merewitz
Fully Altered Media
347-384-2839
matt@fullyaltered.com


Stephen Buono
267-241-5316
stephen@fullyaltered.com
,

fullyaltered.com
Twitter: @fullyaltered

The Jimmy Giuffre 3 & 4
: New York Concerts

Selected as one of the best Historical Albums according to the Readers Poll (December 2014) and best Historical Albums of 2014 (January 2015) Downbeat Magazine.

JimmyGiuffre_3n4_Cover

 

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The years between the release of Jimmy Giuffre’s ground-breaking 1962 album Free Fall and his return to the studio in 1971 with Night Dance have become known as the legendary clarinetist and saxophonist’s “lost decade,” a key period in his and jazz’s musical evolution which sadly went undocumented. The release of these two remarkable 1965 performances on New York Concerts, unheard for nearly 50 years, offer a rare and revelatory glimpse into that discographical dark period.

This captivating two-disc set, would be valuable solely for the brilliant music, which finds Giuffre leading otherwise undocumented trio and quartet line-ups that advance his experiments in counterpoint and abstraction from the chamber-like Free Fall into even more adventurous avant-garde territory. But it also offers much-needed insight into one of jazz’s most innovative thinkers at a key moment in his development.

These recordings are the latest treasures to be unearthed from the seemingly inexhaustible troves of producer/engineer George Klabin, who in the last few years has also released essential “lost” recordings on his Resonance Records imprint by Bill Evans (Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Village Gate) and the forthcoming Charles Lloyd (Manhattan Stories). Additionally Feldman ushered Wes Montgomery’s newly acclaimed Echoes of Indiana Avenue through Resonance’s auspices.

The Jimmy Giuffre 3 & 4’s New York Concerts was brought to light through the passion and dedication of Klabin’s partner in these releases, producer Zev Feldman, who brought the tapes to Barcelona-based Distrijazz founder Jordi Soley. Sharing a similar enthusiasm for the music, Feldman and Soley co-founded Elemental Music label as a home for Feldman to release more catalog discoveries, unreleased tapes or reissues of out of print records from bygone labels.

“I was really taken with this music when I heard it,” says Feldman, who discovered the tapes in July 2012 after working on the Montgomery and Evans recordings and asking Klabin what else might be hiding in his archives. “This was obviously the direction in which Jimmy was going with his music, but it was unlike anything I’d ever heard. It just blew me away.

Jimmy Giuffre by Fred Seligo (c)Delia Seligo Archives/CTSIMAGES
Jimmy Giuffre by Fred Seligo
(c)Delia Seligo Archives/CTSIMAGES

The first disc was recorded in September 1965 at Judson Hall during Charlotte Moorman’s New York Festival of The Avant Garde, produced by saxophonist and jazz critic Don Heckman, on a triple bill with bands led by Heckman and Charles Lloyd. The concert marks the only performance by this particular trio with bassist Richard Davis and drummer Joe Chambers, who when interviewed for the CD booklet, had no recollection of the date even happening.

Disc two travels slightly back in time to May 1965, with a performance in an empty Wollman Auditorium on the campus of Columbia University, then 19-year-old Columbia student Klabin had recently been appointed head of the jazz department at WKCR-FM, the university’s radio station, and wanted to present original recordings as part of his show. He invited Giuffre with that goal in mind, and recorded his quartet – with Chambers, pianist Don Friedman, and bassist Barre Phillips.

Both of these recordings were made expressly for Klabin’s radio show, aired once, and then filed away for nearly five decades. The pristine sound quality reveals Klabin’s prodigious talents at an early age, close-miking each musician and mixing live to a Crown 2-track tape recorder. “It’s George Klabin’s world of sound,” says Feldman with audible admiration. The release was mixed, mastered, and restored by Klabin & Fran Gala at the Resonance Records Studios in Beverly Hills.

The tapes’ welcome resurrection is accompanied by attractive and exhaustive packaging, with liner notes by writers Philippe Carles and Bob Blumenthal (who interviewed Friedman, Phillips, and Chambers); background by Feldman and Klabin; and reminiscences by Giuffre’s longtime collaborators Paul Bley, Steve Swallow, and the late Jim Hall. Giuffre’s widow Juanita Giuffre also offers her thoughts and support, which was integral for Feldman to move ahead with the project.

Juanita Giuffre, Jimmy Giuffre, Paul Bley, Carla Bley and Steve Swallow in Germany 1961 Photo courtesy of Juanita Giuffre, all rights reserved.
Juanita Giuffre, Jimmy Giuffre, Paul Bley, Carla Bley and Steve Swallow in Germany 1961
Photo courtesy of Juanita Giuffre, all rights reserved.

“Without Juanita’s support and blessing we would not have done this project,” Feldman says. “She was very gracious to allow us to do this.” Unlike other historical release labels, Feldman made sure everything was above board regarding copyright and musician fees. All sidemen were paid for their work and royalties arranged with the Giuffre estate.

These two sessions come three years after the release of Free Fall, Giuffre’s pioneering trio recording with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow that ventured into unexplored territory, expanding the boundaries of jazz but resulting in the ahead-of-its-time trio being dropped from Columbia Records due to poor sales numbers. The trio disbanded soon thereafter, and in early 1965 Giuffre played the Olympia Theatre in Paris in a new trio with Phillips and Friedman to a hostile reception (Carles was present at said concert and writes about it in his notes). The New York Concerts represent a few milestones beyond the staggeringly inventive sounds being made: they mark Giuffre’s first bands with a drummer in many years and a return to showcasing the tenor saxophone after a long period of focusing solely on the clarinet.

Most importantly, this release provides integral context for the genius of Jimmy Giuffre, which Feldman hopes will spur increased attention for the oft-overlooked innovator. “I hope that this serves as the ignition for dialogue about who he was and why he should be remembered. I hope that people enjoy the music. I hope that we can learn from it. And I hope we keep the candle burning for Jimmy Giuffre and that he would be proud of what we’re doing here.”

The two-disc set is available June 10th, 2014 on Elemental Music, distributed in the U.S. by INgrooves/Universal Music Distribution.

PRESS CONTACT:
Matt Merewitz
Fully Altered Media
347-384-2839
matt@fullyaltered.com


Stephen Buono
267-241-5316
stephen@fullyaltered.com
,

fullyaltered.com
Twitter: @fullyaltered