Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

REDD, Freddie

(b 29 May 1928, NYC) Pianist, composer. He grew up in Harlem, moved to Long Island, back to the Bronx, didn't like school and didn't take to piano lessons; he joined the army '46, went to Korea, heard a record by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and decided to get serious. Back in New York he gigged in duos and trios; recorded as a sideman (e.g. with Tiny Grimes on United '51), as a leader '55 on Prestige (his trio tracks later combined with tracks by Hampton Hawes in Piano: East/West). He recorded for Metronome in Sweden '56, both as sideman and leading a trio; worked with Charles Mingus for a while, left Mingus in San Francisco and wrote San Francisco Suite '57 for Riverside (later on Fantasy).

Back in New York he lost his cabaret card because of a small amount of marijuana, but didn't need it for his next gig: the famous quartet tracks composed for Jack Gelber's off-Broadway play The Connection '59, with Jackie McLean both acting and playing, were recorded for Blue Note '60; alternate versions of the same tunes were also done for Felsted/London with a different rhythm section and with Tina Brooks on tenor instead of McLean on alto. Shades Of Redd the same year added Brooks to the Blue Note lineup, with Paul Chambers on bass; six more tracks were made '61 adding Benny Bailey on trumpet, unissued until Mosaic's limited edition Complete Blue Note Recordings '89.

Redd was always a travelling man, recording only for Futura Swing in Paris '71 and Interplay/Trio in Los Angeles '77; then three days in January '85 for Uptown: the septet Lonely City was a lovely album and an overdue return for a fine musician, plus trio tracks still to be issued. Another trio followed, Live At The Studio Grill '88 on Triloka, and sextet session Everybody Loves A Winner '90 on Milestone. Another trio, Music For You, with Jay Anderson on bass and Billy Drummond on drums, came out on Steeplechase in 2015, uniquely lovely treatments of familiar tunes.