Red Garland

Red Garland
Pianist Red Garland @ jazz club Keystone Korner, SF, CA May 1978 © 2014 Brian McMillen

Basic Infomartion

Birth nameWilliam McKinley Garland, Jr.
BornMay 13, 1923
Dallas, Texas
DiedApril 23, 1984
Dallas, Texas


1923William "Red" Garland was born in Dallas, Texas on May 13.
He began to study the clarinet and alto saxophone with saxophonist Buster “Prof” Smith, who who was a strong influence on Charlie Parker, because his father wanted him to even though he wanted to play trumpet.
1941He joined the United States Army and began to learn the piano with his coworkers Lee Barnes, John Lewis, who was not the famous John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet.
He motivated himself to practice entire days and made rapid progress.
He had a short early career as a welterweight boxer which impressed Miles Davis who was a fan of boxing, and he did not seem to hurt his playing hands.
1944He played locally around Texas after being discharged from the military. And he kept learning on his own from recordings and with an exercise book by Theodore Presser.
1945He had his first gig on piano with Fort Worth tenor player Bill Blocker. He got his first major job with trumpeter Hot Lips Page.
1946He joined trumpeter Oran "Hot Lips" Page's band and toured for (when Page offered him to join Page's band, but he refused at first because he thought he wasn't ready). At the end of the tour in New York, he decided to stay in New York. He began to learning from Bud Powell in New York.
He performed with Billy Eckstine(throught Art Blakey's recommendation), Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Gene Ammons and Stonny Stitt after moving to New York.
1947He began working as the house pianist at the Down Beat(Blue Note?) club in Philadelphia, where he played with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Bill Harris, Flip Phillips, Charlie Ventura, Bennie Green, drummer Charlie Rice(in the house band) etc.
1948He joined Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis' recording, they recoreded Ravin' At The Heaven.
1949Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge hired him for their band. This band made him famous and popular.
Lester Young and Ben Webster hired him.
late 1940sHe toured with Eddie Vinson's band and there was John Coltrane.
He got his first call from Miles Davis. Davis didn't succeed that time, so he stayed with his trio and with Lester Young.
1955He joined Miles Davis' record The Musings of Miles, while he was still with Young.
In Octobar, he joined the Miles Davis Quintet featuring John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers (he suggested John Coltrane).
1958He was fired by Miles, but later returned to play on Milestones (but he was mad and left the studio during the recording session).
He formed his own trio. Among the musicians the trio recorded with are Pepper Adams, Nat Adderley (Cannonball Adderley's brother), Ray Barretto, Kenny Burrell, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Jimmy Heath, Harold Land, Philly Joe Jones, Blue Mitchell, Ira Sullivan, and Leroy Vinnegar, John Coltrane and Donald Byrd.
1968He semi-retired because of the declining demand for jazz.
He returned to Dallas to care for his mother.
1976 (1978?)He returned from semi-retirement by the famous producer Orin Keepnews and Todd Barkan.
His later work tended to sound more modern and less polished than his early work.
1979He recorded with bassist Ron Carter and guitarist Kenny Burrell, and maintained an active performance schedule over the next few years.
1984He died in Dallas, Texas at the age of 60 on April 23(24?) because of a heart attack


A Garland of Red1956PrestigeHis debut album
Red Garland's Piano1956Prestige
The P.C. Blues1957PrestigeRecorded in 1957 at the sessions that produced Red Garland's Piano and Groovy (with one track from Miles Davis' 1956 album Workin' with The Miles Davis Quintet added)
Red Garland Revisited!1957PrestigeRecorded in 1957 at the sessions that produced Red Garland's Piano and Groovy (with one track from Miles Davis' 1956 album Workin' with The Miles Davis Quintet added)
Soul Junction1957PrestigeRecorded the same day the pieces for All Mornin' Long were recorded.
All Mornin' Long1957PrestigeRecorded the same day the pieces for Soul Junction were recorded.
Dig It!1957Prestige
High Pressure1957Prestige
It's a Blue World1958Prestige
Can't See for Lookin'1958Prestige
Rediscovered Masters1958Prestige
The Red Garland Trio1958MoodsvilleAlso referred to as Moodsville Volume 6
All Kinds of Weather1958Prestige
Red in Bluesville1959Prestige
Satin Doll1959Prestige
Red Garland at the Prelude1959PrestigeRecorded at the Prelude Club at the same concert that produced "Lil' Darlin'" and "Red Garland Live!".
Lil' Darlin'1959StatusRecorded at the Prelude Club at the same concert that produced "Red Garland at the Prelude" and "Red Garland Live!".
Red Garland Trio at the Prelude1959Prestige
Red Garland Live!1959New JazzRecorded at the Prelude Club at the same concert that produced "Lil' Darlin'" and "Red Garland at the Prelude".
The Red Garland Trio + Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis1959Moodsville"Featuring saxophonist Eddie ""Lockjaw"" Davis Also referred to as Moodsville Volume 1"
Alone with the Blues1960Moodsville"Solo album. Originally as part of the Moodsville series"
Red Alone1960Moodsville"Solo album. Originally as part of the Moodsville series"
Soul Burnin'1960PrestigeThe CD reissue features a bonus track "A Little Bit of Basie" recorded in 1959, originally appeared on Satin Doll (1970).
Bright and Breezy1961Jazzland
The Nearness of You1961JazzlandSubtitled "Ballads played by Red Garland"
Red's Good Groove1962Jazzland
When There Are Grey Skies1962Prestige
The Quota1971MPS
Auf Wiedersehen1971MPS
Groovin' Live1974Alfa Jazz
Groovin' Live II1974Alfa Jazz
Groovin' Red1977Keystone
Red Alert1977GalaxyOne of the largest recording groups he ever led.
Feelin' Red1978Muse
I Left My Heart...1978Muse
Stepping Out1979Galaxy
So Long Blues1979Galaxy
Strike Up the Band1979Galaxy
Wee Small Hours1980FullHouse
Misty Red1982Baystate
The Last Recording: My Funny Valentine1983Meldac Jazz
The Last Recording 2: Autumn Leaves1983Meldac Jazz


  • His main influences were Count Basie(his first favorite), Nat Cole, Art Tatum and Bud Powell as he confessed.
    He also learned from James P. Johnson, Luckey Roberts, Teddy Wilson, Bud Powell and Art Tatum(his the most favorite).
    Influences from Erroll Garner and Ahmad Jamal also can be heard from his records.
  • Garland helped popularize the block chord style of piano playing.

    Playing style

    His method of block-chording has influenced many other pianists.

    from by Jazz critic Harvey Pekar on Down Beat: June 6, 1963 Vol. 30, No. 13
    • The block chord technique is different from the ways of earlier block chord pioneers such as George Shearing.
    • The block chords were constructed of three notes in the right hand and four in the left hand.
    • The left hand played four-note chords (rarely three-note) and did not change voicings until the next chord change occurred, which was different from Geroge Shearing’s way. He occasionally did not play the roots of the chords, which is later associated with Bill Evans.
    • The right hand play melody by combining octave and a fifth (mainly perfect fifth) above the bottom melody not.
    • Both hands play the same exact rhythm.
  • His nickname “Red” was derived from the color he dyed his hair (at one point in time).