Friday, November 2, 2007


Dear Mr. Garland-

I found your solo album “Red Alone” at Dearborn Music. I dig the cover photo of you leaning against a wall holding a cigarette.

You had a surprised look on your face like a photographer yelled: “Hey, Red say cheese!” The plaid blazer you sported was really sharp. It reminded me of one I saw displayed in the window at Hot Sam’s, a men’s clothing stores in downtown Detroit.

“Red Alone” is a love letter. Mr. Garland, when you played “The Nearness of You” and “You Are Too Beautiful” was there a particular lady you had in mind--a lady who inspired you to be your best.

Growing up in Dallas, Texas, you had a colorful life. You were a welterweight boxer. You fought Sugar Ray Robinson. That took guts. Did Robinson beat you so badly you realized playing music would be a safer occupation? I’m just kidding.

I would have never guessed you were involved in such a brutal sport. Pardon the pun, you strike me as a romantic not a fighter.

As a teenager, you played the alto sax and the clarinet. How was it playing with alto saxophonist Buster Smith? I heard Smith was popular on the Texas’ jazz scene. He taught you to play and how to read music. I bet he was a great teacher. Pianist John Lewis(not the musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet) got you hooked on the pianio.

You heard pianist Lewis playing at the recreation center. Lewis took you under his wing. Did he teach you to play blocked chords?

Mr. Garland, I don’t want to consume anymore of your time. You are probably somewhere in heaven practicing. I bet there are plenty of jam sessions around.

I’m sure God is treating you, Trane, Paul and Philly Joe like royalty. You guys made a lot of jazz folks happy. Have you heard anything about Miles?

Is Miles still in that rock/hip hop bag? Have you guys patched things up? Are you still mad at him for firing you? Miles tried to change your style. He wanted you to be more modal. You refused.

Mr. Garland I hope I haven’t asked too many personal questions. I didn’t mean to stray from my reason for writing you. “Red Alone” made me curious. It touched me.

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