Sunday, September 9, 2007

DISCOVERING RED GARDLAND

She and I have been friends for over fifteen years now. We have a lot of things in common. The most valued is our love for jazz music. Over the years, we have gone to some amazing jazz concerts. We saw pianist Cyrus Chestnut in Flint, Michigan one winter. It was the first time she had experienced the pianist live although she’s been a big fan every since I loaned her his albums “Revelations,” “ The Dark Before The Dawn,” and “Earth Stories”. During the concert she impressed me by naming the compositions Chestnut played, and the order in which they appeared on the albums.

She forced me to see trumpeter Wynton Marsalis at Orchestra Hall in Detroit. I didn’t care much for his music. The trumpeter was too much of a clean-cut traditionalist for my taste. But I went to the gig anyway. Marsalis floored and converted me. He swung from the time he walked onto the stage until he exited to a thunderous ovation. As we left the concert, my friend made me retract every bad thing I’ve every uttered about Marsalis. I have been an admirer of his music every since.

Recently, we attended saxophonist James Carter performance at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. I thought this was her first time hearing the saxophonist, but she surprised me when she revealed she saw in New York. Then she said something that I thought was really hip. Carter is such a gifted saxophonist he could blow into a garden hose and make it sound good. I never told her the Carter is probably my favorite jazz musicians in the world, and that I listen to his music damn near everyday. During intermission, she told me that a co-worker loaned her two recordings by pianist Red Garland. Now Garland has taken Cyrus Chestnut place as her favorite jazz pianist.

In my late 20’s, when I first began listening to jazz, Garland was the first pianist that I fell for. His playing was unrushed and relaxed. He played each musical note and bar with the care of a parent bathing a newborn. “Soul Junction” is my favorite Red Garland Album. His solo on the title cut gives me goose bumps over my entire body every time I listen to it. I recommended this album to my friend. But I didn’t loan it to her. We stopped loaning each other music a few years ago. She still has several of my Cyrus Chestnut albums, and I refuse to return the Dinah Washington album that she let me borrow until she returns my Chestnut recordings.

She called me a few weeks ago. She had just returned home from Chicago. There she went to Jazz Mart, a record store that sales only jazz music. She purchased “Soul Junction”. The sales clerk tried to get her to purchase another Garland album that he thought was better. But she stuck with my recommendation. She listened to the album on her way back to Detroit. She is more in love with Garland now than ever. She was so enthusiastic she inspired me to blow the dust off my Garland album's and to take another listen. The music still sounds great.

As I write about my friend and our jazz friendship, I’m listening to “Soul Junction”. Garland is soloing on “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good). He’s strolling through the solo like he’s walking his dog at the Park. I’m really fortunate, to own such great music, and to be able to share it with an appreciative friend.
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